Academic Writing

Academic writing is one of the most important—and inescapable—aspects of graduate school, but it is also a skill that requires practice. In this section, you will find useful resources to help you develop this skill.

Writing and publishing is part-and-parcel of life for graduate students. In this section, you will find useful resources to help you through this journey, and links to popular journals that you can consider submitting your work to. If you are a journal editor, or if you would like to suggest a journal, please do not hesitate to contact us!

On campus resources

Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communications
The Centre is run by UBC Learning Commons, and it offers students a variety of writing support including one-on-one consultations, workshops, and writing guides and resources.

This is a service that I’ve used over the years as a graduate student and I really recommend it. A writing consultation is a conversation about your writing. The writing consultants will work with you to improve your writing, shape your writing process, and meet your goals. Consultations run 25 minutes for undergraduate students and graduate students. You can book up to 2 appointments per week on separate days. Consultations are free for all UBC students. (Claudia Diaz-diaz, EDST GAA 2016-2018)

Graduate Pathways to Success (Pathways)
The award winning Pathways programme offers students a range of non-credit bearing workshops and seminars on five major themes: graduate school success, self management, professional effectiveness, career building, and constructive leadership. Check out their calendar for their latest events and past presentation materials.

GAA Workshops
Keep an eye out for a variety of workshops offered throughout the year on writing-related topics such as publishing your work, writing conference proposals, writing a successful SHHRC proposal etc.

Writing Groups
Peer editing is one of the most useful practices for improving your academic writing. Form a small group (ideally of 3 to 4, no more!) amongst your peers and provide feedback and support to each other on a regular basis. To find out how to effectively manage a writing group, click here for some tips by Dr. Chris Golde of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Your Supervisor/Advisor
Remember that your supervisor or advisor is the best writing resource you will have so do not be afraid to ask him or her for feedback on your conference proposals, manuscript drafts, and grant proposals!

Online resources

Useful books and journal articles

  • Baker, S. (1985). The practical stylist. New York, NY: Longman.
    (UBC Library)
  • Becker, H. (1986). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    (UBC Library)
  • Boice, R. (1990). Professors as Writers. A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing. Stillwater, OK: New Forums.
    (UBC Library)
  • Bolker, Joan. (1998). Writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day: A guide to starting, revising, and finishing your doctoral thesis. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Cameron, Julia (1998). The right to write – An invitation and initiation into the writing life. New York: Archer & Putnam.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Dillard, A. (1989). The writing life. New York: HaperPerennial.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Goldberg, N. (1986). Writing down the bones: Freeing the writer within. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Kilbourn, B. (2006). The qualitative doctoral dissertation proposal. Teachers College Record, 108(4), 529–576.
  • Lamott, A. (1995). Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Lipson, Charles (2008). Doing honest work in college: how to prepare citations, avoid plagiarism, and achieve real academic success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Rankin, Elizabeth (2001). The work of writing – Insights and strategies for academics and professionals. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass *(has a good discussion about forming a writing support group)*
    (UBC Library)
  • Silvia, Paul J. (2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive academic writing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
    (UBC Library)
  • Strunk Jr., W. and White, E. B. (1999). The elements of style. New York, NY: Longman.
    (UBC Library | VPL)
  • Sword, H. (2011). Stylish academic writing. Harvard Press.
    (UBC Library eBook | VPL)
  • Woods, Peter. (2006). Successful writing for qualitative researchers. New York/London: Routledge.