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General Writing Resources Online

GradWRITE! Initiative
Western - Student Development Services - Writing Support Centre
Find out about upcoming workshops and consult the posted presentations.

Online Writing Lab
Purdue University
Over 200 free resources including handouts, PowerPoint presentations and worksheets that cover a wide variety of writing topics

University of Ottawa
Thorough outline of standard English grammar. After each lesson, there is an interactive review that allows students to apply what they have just learned.

How to Find a Good Idea…and Do Something With it
University of Texas at Austin

The Best Books on General Writing at Western Libraries

Strunk, Jr., W. and E.B. White. 2000. The Elements of Style (4th. ed.). Toronto: Longman.
Business, Weldon, Law Libraries - PE1408.S772 1972
Brescia Library - PE1408.S92 2005
King’s Library - PE1408.S8E5 1979
Teaching Support Centre

The renowned children’s author (White) updates his college professor’s style guide in this classic book about the finer points of writing. While not specific to academic or even non-fiction writing, it introduces the reader to the tenets of clear and concise writing using, what else, a clear and concise writing style. Strunk and White’s rules and suggestions are a good starting point for students interested in improving their writing style.

Zinsser, W. 2006. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (7th ed.). New York: Collins.
FIMS, Law, Weldon and Huron Libraries, ARCC - PE1429.Z5
King’s Library - PE1429.Z5O5 2001
Brescia Library - PE1429.Z78 1998
Teaching Support Centre

Another classic style guide, Zinnser’s book complements Strunk and White’s by focusing on writing nonfiction, but it maintains many of the same principles of clear and concise writing. On Writing Well is less about rules than it is about applying principles of good writing to your own projects.

Hale, C. 1999. Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose. New York: Broadway Books.
Teaching Support Centre
Marketed as an updated Elements of Style, Hale guides the reader through the basic rules of English grammar by starting with the different kinds of words (nouns, verbs etc.), expanding into clauses and sentences, and finishing with some advanced wordplay. All the while, she gives details and examples of how to apply the rules to your own writing, what rules are unbreakable, and how to get away with breaking some rules. Like Strunk and White, Hale does not limit herself to academic writing (indeed she is quite critical of it at times), but many of the principles she espouses can and should be applied to all aspects of your writing.

Cook, C.K. 1985. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Weldon Library - PE1441.C66 1985
Teaching Support Centre

Editing your own writing can be a tedious and difficult process, but making your writing as polished as it can be before passing it along to outside readers can only do good things for the finished product. Cook, a copy editor by trade, details the steps she takes when reviewing other people’s writing. While difficult to digest in one sitting, Line by Line is one of the few books that addresses this topic head-on. The book categorizes common sentence-level mistakes and then shows you how to fix them, helping you self-diagnose and treat your own writing afflictions.

The Best Books of Academic Writing at Western Libraries

Swales, J.M. and C.B. Feak. 2004. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
Availability: Teaching Support Centre
This book focuses on helping students develop and refine specific writing skills (e.g. writing general-specific texts, writing critiques and commenting on data). It contains many exercises appropriate for individual work and group discussion. It also contains a very thorough deconstruction of each section of a research paper. This book is highly recommended for students needing help with the many styles of writing required in graduate school.

Davis, M. 2005. Scientific Papers and Presentations (2nd ed.). Burlington, Massachusetts: Academic Press.
Taylor Library - T11.D324 2005
Availability: Teaching Support Centre

New science graduate students would do themselves a service to read this book at the beginning of their degrees. It gives helpful and thorough advice about the conventional content and delivery of scientific information. Literature reviews, manuscripts, theses, conference presentations and many other writing tasks are covered. As a biologist, many of Davis’s examples have a life science spin, but many of the principles of scientific writing are consistent with conventions in the physical sciences. 

Becker, H. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Availability: King’s Library - H91.B4W7 2007
Brescia Library - H91.B39 
Weldon Library - H91.B4 1986
Teaching Support Centre 

New social science graduate students would do themselves a service to read this book at the beginning of their degrees. Like the Davis book, it orients students to their chosen discipline (with many examples coming from Becker’s Sociology background) and cautions new students to avoid the pitfalls of prose common to academics in the social sciences. A highly personalized account of good writing.

Bolker, J. 1998. Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. New York: Owl Books.
Availability: Weldon Library - LB2369.B57 1998 
Teaching Support Centre

There are many “How to Write a Thesis/Dissertation” guides (a quick search for “thesis” or “dissertation” in Amazon yields dozens of applicable books). This book, however, seems to be the most popular among them. The brash title merely refers to Bolker’s main argument that students having trouble writing their theses must start out writing fifteen minutes a day before taking on more intimidating workloads. She also supports the “write to think” method of writing, encouraging students to write many drafts to clarify one’s thinking. The book sets itself apart from other “How to” guides by explaining the psychology of writing a thesis rather than just giving timelines and advice. Students having difficulty starting or restarting their theses should definitely consult this or another similar book.

Locke, L.F., W.W. Spirduso and S.J. Silverman. 2007. Proposals That Work: A Guide for Planning Dissertations and Grant Proposals (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
FIMS Library - Q180.55.P7L63 2007 
King’s Library - Q180.55.L6P7 2000
Weldon Library - Q180.55.P7L63 1993
Huron Library - Q180.55.P7L63 1993 
Brescia Library - H62.L61 1993
Business Library - Q180.55.P7L63 1987 
Teaching Support Centre

Proposals that Work is the most complete guide to proposal writing for graduate students. It was written by academics for academics. Divided into three parts, the book first comprehensively addresses the thesis/dissertation proposal. Each step, from reviewing the function of the proposal to giving an oral presentation on the final product is covered in great detail. Throughout this section, the authors acknowledge some of the broad differences among different branches of academic research (e.g. experiment driven vs. qualitative studies). The second part of the book addresses grant proposals. While many of the sources of funding are not applicable to canadian students, this section helps students craft effective proposals. The final section presents four sample proposals with commentary by the authors. 

Thesis and Dissertation Writing Resources Online

Thesis Regulation Guide
Faculty of Graduate Studies

Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation
S. Joseph Levine - Michigan State University
A thorough and free guide to writing and defending your thesis or dissertation

Writing the Dissertation
Michigan State University

Dissertation Coaches

Dissertation coaching has recently become a mini-industry. These websites contain many free resources to stimulate your thoughts about managing your time and staying productive. They also offer a variety of services that you may pay for to help motivate you to start and complete your thesis.

The Academic Ladder
Free articles to help you through your graduate degree and beyond (go to the “Dissertation Help” section found on the left column). There are also writing clubs that you may pay to join.

Successful Academic
Free resources on the site can be found through the headings at the top of the main text box (e.g. ‘Get it Written’).

Dissertation Doctor
Highlights the ‘journey’ aspect of writing a dissertation with helpful advice on how to overcome the many obstacles in a typical academic career.

Grant and Scholarship Writing

Writing Grant Proposals

External Scholarships
Faculty of Graduate Studies
Presentations outlining the process of applying for external funding (CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC and OGS).
Forms for current competitions

Grant Writing Resources
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry
Contains many links for creating applications, NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC tips and guides.

Financing Your Graduate Degree
Faculty of Graduate Studies

Preparation of the Research Grant Proposal
Teaching Support Centre
PowerPoint presentation for a workshop on grant writing for new faculty. It contains many tips and strategies that are appropriate for graduate students as well.

Elements of a Successful Proposal
McMaster University

How to Write a Competitive Grant Proposal
The University of British Columbia
Great presentation containing information regarding: the hypothesis, your idea, the hypothesis, the “basics,” developing your research proposal, abstract, the research plan, structure, commonly cited problems and budget.

The Art of Grantsmanship
A detailed PDF that reviews every aspect of the grant writing process, from brainstorming to editing and proofreading.

Grantspersonship: An Instruction Manual
The Survival Skills and Ethics Program, University of Pittsburgh

Grant Writing Workshop
University of Toronto
Presentation and video links from a workshop in June 2007 with Information on the spectrum of funding opportunities, and writing CFI and CIHR grants. Focuses on the Basic Sciences, Clinical Sciences, and Community Health/Rehab.

Applying for CIHR Grants

How to Prepare a CIHR Grant Application
Presentation overview of CIHR, their objectives and 13 institutes. Information regarding programs and Funding mechanisms. Tips and Common problems are listed as well asother useful information (ie Funding of CIHR at UWO).

How to Apply for Funding for Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Tips for Writing a Successful CIHR Grant Application or Request for Renewal
Information on registration, the rating scale and resubmissions.
Additional information on guidelines, committee assignments, budgets, co-applicants. Ethics and important dates.
How to acknowledge CIHR in publications.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) – United States
Institutes, Centers and Offices
Contains information and links to the NIH institutes (National Cancer Institute, National Eye Institute, National, Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and more

Grant Writing Tip Sheets
Information about grants, applying for an NHGRI grant, How to choose an appropriate NIH Funding Instrument and Mechanism, A Grants Information CD, Peer Review Guidelines and Information, Peer Review Meetings, Preparing Grant Applications, Quick Guide for Preparing Grant Applications, Tips and How to Write a Grant
Tips for Preparing Proposals
University of Manitoba
General and specific tips for CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC

Applying for NSERC Grants

How to get (and keep) an NSERC Research Grant
Queen's University
NSERC Grants for Discovery Grant Applicants
Suggestions and guidelines to consider when applying for NSERC.

Tips for Preparing Proposals
University of Manitoba
General and specific tips for CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC
Applying for SSHRC Grants

Tips for Preparing Proposals
University of Manitoba
General and specific tips for CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC