Writing

MIT offers multiple support systems to help graduate students develop their writing.

Writing & Communication Center

The Writing Center (E39, Room 115) offers several services to MIT undergraduate and graduate students during the academic year. They can get free individual consultation about any writing difficulty, from questions about grammar to matters of style, including difficulties common to writers, such as:

  • overcoming writer’s block,
  • organizing papers,
  • taking essay exams,
  • revising one’s work, or
  • presenting scientific information.

They may visit the Center during any stage of the writing process: prewriting, writing a first draft, revising, or editing. Consultations may concern papers that have been (or will be) submitted for a grade. The Center is not, however, a proofreading service; it aims to treat writing as a process, to clarify and promote techniques of good writing. The Center also offers instruction both to individuals and groups in methods of oral presentation (how to write a speech, how to use visual aids, how to conduct oneself when presenting scientific or nonscientific information). The Center provides specialized help to those for whom English is a second language.

Doctoral Thesis Coaching Group and Masters Thesis Workshops at MIT Medical Mental Health and Counseling Services

A coaching group and workshops are offered to both PhD and Masters graduate students at MIT. If you are interested, please email Xiaolu Hsi, Ph.D. at hsix@med.mit.edu. An individual meeting will be arranged to discuss the usefulness and match for the group.

The Doctoral Thesis Coaching Group is for students who have started their thesis work (not limited to the writing stage) and who are projected to complete their thesis in six to eighteen (or longer if needed) months. The group will be a mix of skill building, goal setting and peer support. Group members tackle issues such as time management, productivity, procrastination, working with advisors and other faculty, fear of failure, perfectionism, workplace issues, and the inevitable anxiety and stress related to the thesis process. Its success is dependent on the commitment and energy of everyone in the group. Group members are are welcome to stay until they complete the thesis and expected to make a minimum of a one semester commitment to the group. Members are expected to attend the group each week and contribute by receiving as well as giving support to others. Meetings occur every Tuesday between 12:30 and 1:30 at MIT Medical Mental Health and Counseling Services.

Xiaolu Hsi, Ph.D, will be hosting a workshop entitled “Staring Down the Blank Screen – the Psychology of Thesis Writing for Master’s Students,” designed to help master’s students who will be writing a thesis as a part of their degree requirement.  Topics to be discussed are the essentials of thesis writing, self-direction, accessing support (like a thesis advisor, peers, and writing resources), time management, stress and sleep management, productivity, anxiety-induced procrastinating, as well as other interpersonal issues related to the thesis process.  These workshops will take place at MIT Medical Mental Health and Counseling Services on Monday afternoons at 5:00pm (dates available when you call 253-2916 to sign up).  There is a limit of 10 to 15 per workshop; a follow up session is available upon request.

Dissertation Boot Camp

The Graduate Student Council also offers a Dissertation Boot Camp three times a year. By offering an environment for focused writing time, besides exercise breaks conducted by the MIT Center for Health Promotion and Wellness and writing tips from Writing Center representatives, the camp intends to build up healthy writing habits that students will then continue on their own. See their website for more details.