Public Health Writing Program FAQs

The goal of the Public Health Writing Program is to help students strengthen their public health writing skills. Our appointments are student-directed, meaning that your questions and your goals are the priority for the appointment. In each appointment, a peer coach will provide feedback on your writing and work with you to create an action plan to achieve your writing goals.

General Questions

What is a writing appointment?

During a writing appointment, a peer coach can help you with all stages of the writing process, including:

  • Planning to write your paper;
  • Brainstorming and outlining;
  • Organizing and synthesizing the main points of an argument;
  • Thesis development;
  • Tailoring a writing assignment for a specific audience;
  • Writing clearly and concisely; and
  • Techniques for editing and self-proofreading.

Length of appointment: Appointments are for 1-1.5 hours, depending on your needs. Appointments are 30 minutes. How to prepare for each appointment:

  • Bring 2 printed copies of your latest draft/outline and your assignment’s description to the appointment.
  • Bring any relevant materials for the paper to your appointment (i.e. an outline, papers you are citing, textbooks, etc.).
  • Think about what your goals and what you want to accomplish during your session.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Bring printed and/or electronic copies of at least three pieces of writing that contain examples of the writing issues you wish to work on.
  • Think about what your goals and what you want to accomplish during your session.
  • Arrive on time.

May I request a group appointment?
Yes. At least two member of the group must be present at the appointment. To help us accommodate your request, please indicate on the request form that the assignment is a group paper.
How do I receive a Practicum “How-To” Workshop Credit from the Public Health Writing Program?
A credit for one practicum how-to workshop is given to all students who attend three writing appointments before completing their practicum. The three writing appointments do not have to occur in the same semester to receive this credit. If you have any further questions about this option, please email sphwrite@bu.edu.
Who are the peer coaches?
Peer coaches are upper-level SPH students who possess strong writing skills, understand the challenges of the writing process, have excellent communication, and are able to be discreet with confidential information. A select group is chosen each semester after demonstrating these skills through an application process. All peer coaches receive training about guiding students through the writing process, providing effective feedback, and the Public Health Writing Program’s policies and procedures. If you are interested in applying to be a peer coach, please contact sphwrite@bu.edu.

Scheduling an Appointment

How do I schedule an appointment?
You may request a writing appointment  using the online form. Once you submit the appointment, the Educational Resources Coordinator will email you an appointment confirmation time within one business day. To ensure that your appointment is scheduled in a timely manner, we recommend scheduling all appointments at least two days in advance. If you have any concerns about scheduling your appointment, please email the Educational Resources Coordinator at sphwrite@bu.edu.

Remember, writing is a process! You may not be able to address all your concerns about your paper in one writing session. Please allow yourself time to process the feedback and schedule a follow-up appointment as needed.

How many appointments may I schedule?
You are allowed to schedule two appointments for every writing assignment you have BUSPH. For example, if you have five writing assignments due this semester, you are allowed to request a maximum of ten appointments (two appointments per assignment).
When are appointments available?
The Public Health Writing Office is open during the office hours or by appointment.

Fall 2014 office hours will be determined in September.

If you are not available during these times, the Educational Resources Coordinator can schedule an appointment outside of office hours.  Please indicate the times you are available on your request form, and we will work with you to find the best time to meet.

What do I do if I can’t find an appointment and/or an availability that works with my schedule?
If you are not available during the office hours, the program coordinator can work with you to schedule a writing appointment outside of office hours. Please indicate the times you are available on your request form, and we will work with you to find the best time to meet.
Am I required to schedule an appointment in advance?
No.  We do accept drop-in appointments during office hours; however, we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment in advance.  A peer coach may not be available if you drop-in, as scheduled appointments are given priority.
Where do I go for my appointment?
Please check your confirmation email for the exact location of your appointment. Most appointments are scheduled in the writing office, Talbot 224 East; however, during our busy season or outside of office hours, some appointments are scheduled in other rooms. The address for the Talbot Building is 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118

Cancellations and Missed Appointments

How do I cancel my appointment?
If you have signed up for an appointment and later realize you are not able to attend, you must cancel your appointment by sending an email to sphwrite@bu.edu at least 24 hours prior to the start of your scheduled appointment. Appointments canceled at least 24 hours in advance may be rescheduled and you will not be marked as missed. If you cancel less than 24-hours in advance, you will be marked as missed. You may request a new writing appointment time when you cancel your appointment, but please be aware that we have limited availability
What does it mean to be marked “missed”?
Missed means that you did not attend an appointment as scheduled (either you did not come to the appointment or you were more than 15 minutes late). 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 talked to the program coordinator about your attendance. If you feel you have received a missed notification in error, please see the next question.
What do I do if I get a missed appointment email, but I was at the appointment?
If you feel you have received a missed appointment notification in error, or if you have any questions regarding missed appointment emails, please email sphwrite@bu.edu.
If I had any missed appointments last semester, will they be counted against me this semester?
Your missed appointments only count against you for the current semester; all missed appointment records are reset to zero once the new semester begins.