Need help becoming a better writer?
The ERC’s Writing Assistance Program offers BU students, faculty, staff, and alumni an opportunity to develop
their writing skills. ERC Writing Fellows focus on all aspects of the writing process and believe that
everyone can become a better writer. The Writing Fellows can help you with all stages of the writing
process: time management and organization, brainstorming, confusion over the readings or prompts, outlining,
thesis formation, building an effective argument, drafting, integrating evidence and quotations,
revising style and voice, identifying patterns of error at the sentence level, formatting citations, and learning techniques for editing and self-proofreading.
20 minutes (max)
Not scheduled in advance
For limited review
- Specific concerns, such as: introduction, subject-verb agreement, or topic sentences
- Getting specific feedback, but not enough time for a holistic review
Booked in advance
For holistic review
- Students who are working on any stage of a written assignment: brainstorming, drafting, or
- Concerns about clarity, argument or organization
SUMMER 2020 WRITING ASSISTANCE TRADITIONAL APPOINTMENT SCHEDULE WILL BE POSTED FRIDAY, MAY 22. APPOINTMENTS WILL BEGIN TUESDAY, MAY 26.
Writing Assistance is the perfect opportunity to develop your writing skills and become a more confident writer.
Individuals should come prepared to each writing assistance appointment with their written work, ideas, or questions and goals to work on with a Writing Fellow. The appointment is a judgement free zone where you can ask any and all questions. You will lead the appointment with the guidance of a Writing Fellow. Together, you will talk about your writing and what you’re trying to accomplish. ERC Writing Fellows are graduate students with a strong background in effective writing who offer writing advice and troubleshooting strategies for your projects.
What does a Writing Assistance appointment look like?
You will be challenged to work through your writing process with the guidance of your Writing Fellow. Your Writing Fellow will talk with you about your writing and what you’re trying to accomplish, ask about the problems that you’re already aware of, read through your composition with you, and present feedback on how you might resolve your concerns and improve your own work. Fellows will respond to any issues you have identified and offer insights. We encourage you to share what you hope to accomplish during your appointment, and the Writing Fellows will do their best to help!
It’s okay if you haven’t written anything yet, or what you have is not as polished as you’d like. The Writing Fellow can help you with all stages of the writing process: time management and organization, brainstorming, confusion over the reading or prompts, outlining, thesis formulation, building an effective argument, drafting, presenting and integrating evidence/quotations, revising, style and voice, patterns of error at the sentence level, citations/avoiding plagiarism, and techniques for editing and self-proofreading.
What should I not expect of my Writing Fellow?
You should not expect your Writing Fellow to proofread or edit your writing for mistakes; this is something we expect you to do. Writing Fellows cannot work on the same assignment with you more than three times. Without written permission from your instructor, Writing Fellows will not help you with a take-home exam. Please don’t expect the Writing Fellow to have a lesson prepared for your appointment as they are not teachers.
What should I bring?
Laptops are permitted or you can bring a printed double-spaced copy of your writing. It is most helpful to bring your assignment sheet. You can also bring your class syllabus, application form/essay prompts, outline/notes (especially if your draft is still rough), professor’s comments, and/or previous assignments (especially if you hope to identify recurring patterns of issues in your writing).
How can I get the most out of my appointment?
To make the most of your appointment, arrive on time and be ready with your writing and related material. Come with a goal of what you want to accomplish in your session and let your Writing Fellow know. Remember that you are the expert. Writing Fellows are generally not familiar with the content of your classes. They can help you articulate your own ideas and structure your arguments effectively.
Keep an open mind: Students sometimes misdiagnose their own writing. Writing Fellows may direct your attention to new aspects of your work or provide constructive feedback. Be willing to view your work with fresh eyes and engage with your Writing Fellow about their feedback.
Is the ERC's Writing Assistance program the only resource for
No. There are multiple Writing Centers on campus and services you can take advantage of. Explore all of your options with our Academic Resource Guide
Additionally, check out our Online Writing Resources
page for a list of online resources and writing references you might find helpful.
General Questions and ERC Policy
How can I get in touch with my Writing Fellow?
You can e-mail the Writing Fellows at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not use the individual Fellows’ personal e-mail addresses. All Writing Assistance-related communication should go through the email@example.com
Can Writing Fellows help with any course, school, or type of writing?
Writing Fellows are not content experts, but they can usually offer some sort of assistance with any type of academic writing. They serve all BU students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Writing Fellows commonly assist with research papers, thesis-driven essays, personal statements, graduate theses, and application essays. If you are concerned about an unusual project, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why don't Writing Fellows proofread or edit mistakes?
Writing Fellows do not provide proof reading services. To understand the reasons behind why our Writing Fellows do not proofread, you should understand the difference between proofreading and revision. When proofreading, a writer reads through a paper line by line and corrects things like typos and grammatical errors. Generally, proofreading occurs when the paper is almost a finished product. Revision, on the other hand, is the process of seeing a paper again, as if it were something new (re-vision).
The goal of Writing Assistance is not to fix your paper; it is to help you become a better writer. Thus, Writing Fellows will offer advice about revision and strategies for self-proofing so that writers learn what sorts of problems to look for in future papers and discover strategies to correct or avoid them.
What are the limits on appointment use?
Writing Fellows will provide assistance on a single assignment a maximum of three times. Each appointment should be focused on a different aspect of the writing process (for example: one appointment brainstorming for a thesis, a second appointment working on organization of ideas in a rough draft, a third appointment working on transitions in a revised draft). Students are permitted one appointment of each kind every six days, and a maximum of nine appointments of each kind per semester.
What are the policies related to academic dishonesty?
Any work submitted must be your own. If a Writing Fellow suspects a violation of Writing BU’s University Academic Conduct Code
or the Code of Student Responsibilities
, the Writing Fellow reserves the right to terminate the appointment. If you have questions related to academic dishonesty or plagiarism, please get in touch with an ERC staff member. Additionally, we recommend signing up for one the the our Avoiding Plagiarism Workshops.
What if I need help with a take home exam?
Writing Fellows will not help you with a take-home exam without written permission from your instructor. Check your assignment sheet to see if your professor allows you to seek assistance. If it says that help is permitted, bring the assignment sheet with you and show it to the Writing Fellow. If it doesn’t say anything, ask your professor if it’s okay to take your exam to Writing Assistance. If your professor says yes, ask him or her to e-mail us at email@example.com
to let us know before you make your appointment. Otherwise, we will not be able to assist you.
Can Writing Fellows help with resumes, cover letter, or application essays?
Writing Fellows are not specifically trained to review career-related documents such as resumes and cover letters. We strongly recommend that students visit the Center for Career Development
for assistance with these documents. However, Writing Fellows can help you with application essays.
How do I set up a Writing Assistance appointment?
for instructions on scheduling a Writing Assistance appointment.
How do I know I set up an appointment accurately?
Shortly after you have scheduled your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email from the ERC that will contain the following information: the date, time, location of your scheduled appointment, and reminders about ERC policy.
You will also know you have scheduled your appointment correctly if you refresh your home screen in TutorTrac and see Upcoming Appointments.
How many appointments can I schedule?
You can have one appointment of each kind in a week (which means that you can schedule your next appointment on the seventh day after your first appointment). You may schedule nine appointments of each kind per semester.
I’m an alumna/alumnus. I want to use Writing Assistance, but I can’t log in. What do I do?
Alumni are encouraged to use ERC Writing Assistance. Alumni graduating in 2011 or later can simply use their BU IDs and Kerberos passwords to log on to the ERC scheduling system, TutorTrac (erctutor.bu.edu).
If you graduated prior to 2011, please use the Writing Assistance Special Request Form
to request a TutorTrac login. You will receive an email when your account is set up.
What do I do if I can’t log into TutorTrac (ERC's scheduling system) to make an appointment?
If you’re trying to log into TutorTrac and it is slow to respond, please be patient and take a look at your web-browser’s progress icon. If it is loading, it might take a few extra seconds. If you still can’t log in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
or stop at the front desk and the ERC Student Desk Assistants will assist you.
What if I can’t find an appointment that works for me?
If you are needing an appointment soon, you might want to try out Drop-In Writing Assistance hours or you can try out other Writing Centers
on campus. If you have flexibility for when the appointment is booked, you can submit a Writing Assistance Special Request Form
to request that an appointment be made available to you. You should receive a reply within two business days. We cannot guarantee your request will be met, but we will make every attempt to help you. Additionally, you can try waiting for a day and then re-checking TutorTrac for appointments; sometimes new availabilities open up.
I am working on a group writing project, can we schedule a group appointment?
The usual structure of a Writing Assistance appointment is one-on-one, but we may allow group projects under special circumstances. Please use the Writing Assistance Special Request Form
to request a group appointment. Please note the following restrictions:
Six students is the maximum.
No double sessions.
Every person in your group who has contributed to the writing must attend the appointment.
Writing Fellows will not work on the material of writers who are not present under any circumstances.
All members of the group are expected to participate in the meeting.
As always, Writing Fellows will not provide proofreading.
What if I need to cancel by appointment?
If you have signed up for a Writing Assistance appointment and later realize you are not able to attend, you must cancel your appointment. You can then book a new appointment.
To cancel an appointment, send an email to email@example.com
at least 24 hours prior to the start of your scheduled appointment. Include the word “cancel” in the subject heading and tell us your name and the date and time of your appointment. If you cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice, we appreciate the notification, but you will still be marked as Missed. As long as you cancel at least 24 hours prior to the start of the scheduled Writing Assistance appointment, you will not be marked as Missed.
What is a missed appointment?
Students who do not come to their scheduled appointment, who cancel an appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice, or show up more than 15 minutes late will be marked Missed.
Students who are late by less than 15 minutes are marked tardy.
Missed means that you did not attend an appointment as scheduled. It is the policy of the ERC that once you have two Missed appointments, you will be unable to make or attend any future appointments until you have come to the office and spoken with one of the ERC’s professional staff about your attendance. If you feel you have received a Missed notification in error, please see the next question.
What if I got a missed appointment email, but I was there or cancelled far in advance?
If you feel you have received a Missed appointment notification in error, or if you have any questions regarding Missed appointment emails, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
. Sometimes appointments are accidentally marked as missed, and we will be happy to resolve this issue for you.
What happens when I get two missed appoinments on record?
Students with TWO Missed appointments on record will not be able to make any additional appointments and will be removed from any future Writing Assistance appointments until they have come in to speak with ERC staff about their TutorTrac account. If you only have one missed appointment, that won’t impact your ability to book appointments. Additionally, your Missed appointments only count against you for the current semester; all Missed appointment records are reset to zero once the new semester begins.
There are so many resources at BU like tutoring, writing help, and more!
Explore all of your options with our Academic Resource Guide: