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Frequently Asked Questions

Basics

Q: What is Writing Services?
Q: Where is Writing Services, and when is it open?
Q: Who can use Writing Services?
Q: My first language isn't English. Can Writing Services help me?
Q: Why should I go to Writing Services?
Q: Who works at Writing Services?
Q: To whom should I go if I have a suggestion for Writing Services?
Q: My paper is on my laptop. Can we work on it without printing it out?

 

Sessions

Q: What happens in a Writing Services session?
Q: Do I need an appointment?
Q: How do drop-in sessions work?
Q: How long do sessions take?
Q: What if I just have a quick question about formatting, citations, etc.?
Q: What should I bring?
Q: Can I drop off my paper or email it to you and pick it up later?
Q: Can I bring in a group paper?
Q: How often can I come in?
Q: Can I request a particular consultant?
Q: Can you help me with grammar?  

Citing Sources

Q: Will Writing Services help me to document my sources properly?
Q: I'm concerned about plagiarism. Can Writing Services help me identify insufficiently cited quotes or paraphrases that might get me in trouble?  

Grades and Instructors

Q: After visiting Writing Services, my paper wasn’t perfect. Why not?
Q: Will Writing Service’s evaluation of my paper contradict the professor's?
Q: Will my instructor know that I have come to Writing Services?  

Faculty-specific FAQs

Q: Where can I find information to include on my syllabus?
Q: Can I require my whole class to bring their papers to Writing Services?
Q: How can I encourage my students to use Writing Services?
Q: Will I know if one of my students uses Writing Services?
Q: After students visit Writing Services, their papers still have some problems. Why is that?
Q: Can I arrange to have the Writing Services staff do workshops or presentations on writing in my class?    Basics

 Q: What is Writing Services?
A: Writing Services is a free service available to all members of the Averett community, including students, faculty, and staff. We offer consulting in person and online about a variety of writing issues, assisting students in all stages of the process from generating ideas to proofreading the final draft. 
While most of our visitors use our services for papers they are writing for courses, we also help with general writing assignments, including: application essays, cover letters, personal statements, personal letters, articles for publication, and professional letters. Our goal is to help you:

  • develop ideas and organize your thoughts about the assignment
  • use proper formatting rules and present ideas effectively
  • learn strategies for proofreading, editing, and reading your writing critically

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Q: Where can I find Writing Services, and when is it open?
A: Writing Services is located in Averett’s new Galesi Family Student Success Center on the main campus. During the Fall, Spring, and Summer sessions, both the in-person and online services are available:
[TBA]


Q: Who can use Averett’s Writing Services?
A: We work with any member of the Averett community, including undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff. We are happy to accommodate both students in our traditional program as well as those in our Adult Professional/IDEAL programs.  Online or Distance Learning students are encouraged to use our services.  We are also happy to assist Alumni with writing as they make their way in the world. 
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Q: My first language isn't English. Can Writing Services help me?
A: Yes, non-native speakers of English frequently find a visit to Writing Services helpful.  We offer information on developing good grammar, as well as assistance in proofreading.   Please remember that we are not here to write papers for our students.  The more materials that you bring with you to a session, the better help we can be in shaping your writing and keeping the authorship with you.  Please feel free to visit us as often as you like.
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Q: Why should I plan to visit Writing Services?
A: When one writes, he or she should not feel alone.  As writers, one needs good readers to listen and critique.  Our services are a place for you to visit that will offer the opinions of trained consultants.  Our staff is composed of friendly, attentive readers who will help you find the answers to your questions. Our consultants don't judge you for utilizing Writing Services or grade you.  When you visit our center, your meeting is confidential.  We are here to support you in your current writing ventures and help to prepare you for future assignments. 
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Q: Who works at Writing Services?
A: The Writing Services Staff includes advanced undergraduate and graduate students from all departments.  Students who work in the center are trained before they begin working to prepare them for their position in Writing Services.
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Q: To whom should I go if I have a suggestion for Writing Services?
A: The Director of Writing Services, Alana F. Adkins, is your contact for suggestions. If she’s not in her office in the Galesi Family Student Success Center, call her at 434-791-5761, or send an email to alana.adkins@averett.edu
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Q: My paper is on my laptop. Can we work on it without printing it out?
While in some cases it is all right to work from a computer screen, it is more helpful for you to bring a printed copy of your paper to your session.  Often it is difficult to view the entire paper at once when working from a computer, and formatting issues can go undetected.  Time is taken away from the focus on larger issues because typos can be distracting on a computer.  The Student Success Center houses a computer lab, so if you don't have a copy of your paper printed, you can print one on your way to the session.
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Sessions

Q: What happens in a Writing Services session?
A: For details about what a typical session entails, see Session Structure.
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Q: Do I need an appointment?
A: Appointments are not required. Most people who come to Writing Services just drop in. On most days, we can usually see you within a few minutes of your arrival. However, if you prefer to plan ahead, we schedule one appointment per hour. You can reserve a time by calling 434-791-5761 during our normal operating hours.
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Q: How do drop-in sessions work?
A: Simply come by the Student Success Center, inform the reception desk that you are here for Writing Services, and we will be happy to see you.  If you want to work on a paper online, please email Alana Adkins, the director, at alana.adkins@averett.edu
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Q: How long do sessions take?
A: Sessions last generally from 45 minutes to an hour. Many sessions will not last that long. We cap sessions at an hour because studies have shown that brains get tired and needs a break after about an hour.

When things get busy, especially during midterms or the last weeks of class, we sometimes have to cut back to 30-minute sessions for both drop-ins and appointments. You'll still get the same amount of attention, but we have to cut down the time to see everyone who needs our help.
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Q: What if I just have a quick question about formatting, citations, etc.?
A: There's no writing question too small for us to answer.  Simply pop in to our office or email Alana Adkins at alana.adkins@averett.edu.
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Q: What should I bring?
A: There are a few key elements for a successful session. You should bring:

  • the assignment
  • any previous drafts or feedback from your instructor
  • any style guide your instructor asked you to follow
  • your draft
  • your concerns and writing questions

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Q: Can I drop off my paper or email it to you and pick it up later?
A: No. Writing Services is all about conversation. When you bring a paper to Writing Services, you will work in person with a consultant. The two of you will read the paper together and talk about what is working and what isn’t, the solutions you could try, and the different options you have for improving your writing.
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Q: Can I bring in a group paper?
A: Yes. Group papers are welcomed.   It is strongly encouraged that all group members attend the session, so each writer can benefit from information gathered at the session.
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Q: How often can I come in?
A: You may come in as often as you like. We limit students to two appointments per day, and we ask that you step away from the paper between sessions long enough to make significant changes to the assignment.  Of course, you may be coming back to work on a different assignment, so we welcome you to drop back in anytime.
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Q: Can I request a particular consultant?
A: Sure, as long as that person is working at the time you come in.
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Q: Can you help me with grammar?
A: Yes. In fact, we can help you right now; our websiteincludes links to resources that will help you with grammar and formatting issues.

As readers, correct grammar and usage are among the many things we look for in reading drafts of papers with writers. We are glad to help you understand the nuances of grammar, style, usage, and other formal elements. However, please keep in mind the following:

  • Writing Services is not a proofreading service. We will point out the issues that we notice, but in the interest of time, we cannot flag every instance. It is your job to apply your consultant's advice throughout the rest of the paper.
  • Every Writing Services session involves setting priorities and making choices about what issues need the most attention. Sometimes grammatical concerns will be the major focus of a session, but often we will spend our time together on more content-based and save the fine tuning and polishing for another day and another draft.
  • Online services are helpful, but there is a disconnect that occurs by not sitting down face-to-face with a consultant.  You will not have the benefit of going over your paper line by line, and often you may find that specific issues are not addressed when you submit a paper online. 

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Citing Sources   

Q: Will Writing Services help me to document my sources properly?
A: Yes. If you keep track of all the necessary bibliographical information, and if you know which system of documentation you are supposed to use (APA, MLA, CMS, CBE, AMA, Turabian, etc.), we will help you look up answers to your questions about citing particular sources. We may not always be able to find the answers, but we will try. Remember that it is not the mission of Writing Services to certify that your citations are perfect. Rather, it is our job to help you learn how to use your style manual to construct the best possible citations.
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Q: I'm concerned about plagiarism. Can Writing Services help identify insufficiently cited quotes or paraphrases that might get me in trouble?
A: It's very easy, when writing quickly, to mistakenly drop in a section of text from a source without citing it. As we are reading your paper with you, we try to be alert to sudden shifts in style that can indicate cut-and-paste issues. We can help you properly use and credit your sources and understand the difference between legitimate paraphrase and plagiarism. However, since we are probably not familiar with either the sources you’ve used or with your normal writing style (unless you are a regular customer), we can’t guarantee that we will always notice problems with citation.

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Grades and Instructors

Q: After visiting Writing Services, my paper wasn’t perfect. Why not?
A: Our goal in Writing Services isn't to make perfect papers, but to work with writers to help improve writing. This paper may not be perfect, but you will be better prepared for future assignments. As much as writers might like us to “take over” their papers and “fix” them, that is not our mission – and while that might give a more pleasurable experience for readers, it would neither help you to improve as a writer (which is our ultimate purpose), nor would it be consistent with the Academic Integrity Policy (which is extremely important to us).

Our objective in each Writing Services session is to help writers feel ready and able to tackle the next step, or the next few steps, in writing or revising. That means we have to set priorities and make judgments. We may, for example, illustrate how to restructure a paper so that the parts of it fit together more coherently, or how to bolster the argument with more evidence, or how to use and identify sources properly, or how to correct some persistent errors in usage or punctuation. But we are often aware that even if writers use what they learn to improve their papers in some ways, there will still be other problems remaining. That's why we always encourage writers to come back for additional sessions throughout the revision process.
If you have concerns or questions about a particular session, Alana Adkins would love to hear from you. (Please send email to alana.adkins@averett.edu or call 434-791-5761.)
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Q: Will the Writing Service’s evaluation of my paper contradict the professor's?
A: No, because Writing Service consultants don't evaluate papers. Instead, we react honestly as readers – pointing out problems, raising questions, encouraging writers to examine available options. We are not in a position to anticipate or explain instructors' responses to papers. Writers are responsible for the papers they turn in, and their instructors are responsible for evaluating them; our role is to help the writer improve his or her skills and to prepare him or her for future writing.
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Q: Will my instructor know that I have come to Writing Services?
A: If you want them to know, we will gladly share.  Most instructors are pleased that a student was concerned enough to spend extra time on a writing assignment. We will send an email to professors when their students visit Writing Services. However, if you do not request us to send an email, we won’t.
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Faculty-Specific FAQs

Q: Where can I find information to include on my syllabus?
A: Feel free to cut and paste any or all of the paragraphs below:
Averett University Writing Services provides consultants to work one-on-one with you to help you make your writing more vibrant, clear, and effective. Writing Services assists students in all stages of the process from generating ideas to proofreading the final draft. 

Writing Services consultants hail from a variety of academic disciplines.  Face-to-face sessions last about 45 minutes to an hour.  Writing Services also offers online counseling for general questions about your writing and structure.  Our goal is to support your long-term development as a writer, giving you new skills to use in future projects. 

Students can make appointments for assistance, and faculty can refer students to the center.  
When you leave Writing Services, we hope that you will feel more confident about your writing. 
The service is free. Appointments are recommended, although walk-ins are welcomed. Email: alana.adkins@averett.edu or call 434-791-5761.


Director, Alana Adkins
For appointments: Email or Phone
Location: The Galesi Family Student Success Center
Email: alana.adkins@averett.edu
Phone: 434-791-5761
On Campus: 15761
Hours: TBA


What happens during a session?
Writing Services is not a proofreading or editing service, although we are happy to help you learn these skills.  Our tutors work collaboratively with you to address your concerns as a writer.  After reading through your assignment and paper together, we’ll discuss your concerns.  We’ll spend a lot of our time talking, but it’s also likely that you’ll do some writing.  We may direct you to further resources at the end of a session.  Our goal is to support your long-term development as a writer, giving you new skills to use in future writing projects.

Why are sessions face to face recommended?
At Writing Services, we feel that it is more beneficial to both the writer and the consultant to meet face to face instead of electronically.  This way, there is an active dialogue and the learning process is more efficient.  Understanding is better face-to-face because questions can be explored more thoroughly.  We talk about projects, goals, and revision strategies.  We discuss everything from writer’s block to the passive voice, from the writing schedule to proper citation.  Students often visit with concerns about understanding assignments, developing arguments, organization, evidence, and sentence-level issues. 

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Q: Can I require my whole class to bring their papers to Writing Services?
A: No but Yes. Confusing, right? We appreciate your support of Writing Services, but we know from experience that when students get a blanket requirement of this kind, most of them wait until the last minute and then come in simply to get us to verify their presence; they don’t plan to make any substantial changes in their papers. This creates a traffic jam in Writing Services and may prevent other students, who are serious about improving their writing, from getting the help that they seek on their own. If you would like to require your students to bring in their papers, you need to talk with Alana Adkins (alana.adkins@averett.edu, 434-791-5761) first, so that we can make sure to prepare your students for successful sessions and prepare the staff. She’ll work with you on creating a schedule for your students to visit Writing Services. Please see the next question for suggestions on how to encourage your students to take advantage of our services.

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Q: How can I encourage my students to use Writing Services?
A: Here are some suggestions:

  • Include a description of Writing Services on your syllabus.
  • Bring your class to Writing Services for a quick tour. Email alana.adkins@averett.edu or call 434-791-5761 to arrange a tour.
  • Tell students you are impressed when you receive a note from Writing Services showing that they were motivated and conscientious enough to go in for a visit.
  • Get students who have visited Writing Services to tell others in the class about their experience.
  • Tell your class about former students of yours whose writing has improved as a result of their visits to Writing Services.
  • Talk to your students about your own writing process, and about the value of having a trusted reader who gives you honest, constructive feedback. It’s good for students to know that even experienced writers need good readers.
  • While we don’t recommend giving “extra credit points” per se for a Writing Services visit, many instructors build in some type of rewards for extra effort on the part of students (perhaps in the form of a “participation” grade, or a “process” grade). If that is true in your class, you might tell students that visits to Writing Services demonstrate extra effort on their part, and will be rewarded accordingly.

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Q: Will I know if one of my students uses Writing Services?
A: Yes, if your student wants you to know. Unfortunately, students occasionally tell their professors they went to Writing Services when in fact they did not. If you suspect that is the case, send email to alana.adkins@averett.edu or call Alana Adkins at 434-791-5761. A student who claims that he went to the Center is obviously waiving his right to “confidentiality,” so I will check our records and tell you whether or not he has been in.
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Q: After students visit Writing Services, their papers still have some problems. Why is that?
A: Our goal in Writing Services isn't to make perfect papers, but to work with writers to help improve their writing. This paper may still have errors, but the writer will be better prepared for future assignments. Our objective in each Writing Services session is to help writers feel ready and able to tackle the next step, or the next few steps, in writing or revising. That means we have to set priorities and make judgments. We may, for example, illustrate how to restructure a paper so that the parts of it fit together more coherently, or how to bolster the argument with more evidence, or how to use and identify sources properly, or how to correct some persistent errors in usage or punctuation. But we are often aware that even if writers use what they learn to improve their papers in some ways, there will still be other problems remaining. That's why we always encourage writers to come back for additional sessions throughout the revision process.
If you have concerns or questions about a particular session, Alana Adkins would love to hear from you. (Please send email to alana.adkins@averett.edu or call 434-791-5761.)
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Q: Can I arrange to have Writing Services staff do workshops or presentations on writing in my class?
A: The answer to that question is a cautious “Yes.” Our primary purpose is to work individually with students. However, if you are interested in a workshop on a specific topic that incorporates the current writing projects of your students, the first step is to set up a meeting with the Director. This will help us to develop a workshop customized to your particular group of writers. Email Alana Adkins at alana.adkins@averett.edu if you would like to pursue this option.

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