What to Expect During your Consultation
Your consultant will answer questions, provide informed feedback as a reader, and make suggestions when appropriate. Consultants will not proofread entire student papers.* It would be unethical for us to “fix” a paper that you will submit for a grade. However, we can help you identify some of your writing problems, help you improve your proofreading skills, and teach you to correct your own errors. You are expected to take an active role in the review process and assume responsibility for final decisions.
During your appointment, we will draw your attention to the highest priority concerns in your current draft. We cannot review every aspect of your writing in a single appointment; comprehensive feedback usually requires multiple appointments.
Can I get Help with Exams?
Consultants may help students with exams, including take-home exams, but first require blanket written permission from the professor for all students in the course. Written permission must take the form of an email from the professor to the director or consultant describing the scope and limitations of help the professor will allow. Doctoral students taking comprehensive exams may not work with the Writing Center until the exam has been completed and passed.
Can I get Help with Personal Statements?
For currently enrolled students, in most cases, consultants may help you with writing personal statements and letters for fellowships, employment, or school applications. If you are seeking admission to another program at Saint Mary’s, your consultant may contact the program director for permission to assist you with your application materials.
*By recommendation of the International Writing Centers Association and the Conference on College Composition & Communication, and by agreement with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Schools of Graduate & Professional Programs.
We will help you to understand and avoid plagiarism; however, if we identify potential plagiarism in your paper, we will not address other writing issues until the plagiarism is resolved. You must provide source citations for any information obtained from research, whether that information is quoted or paraphrased. If you are not sure how to quote, paraphrase, or cite, bring your original sources and we will help you learn.
Consultants will not report suspected plagiarism to individuals outside of the Writing Center (see “Confidentiality,” below, for more information); however, consultants may cancel the session at their own discretion if they feel that a paper is not the student’s own work and the student refuses to revise the potentially plagiarized passages.
Writing Center consultants’ student session notes are in most cases kept confidential. If an instructor detects plagiarism in a class assignment, however, the Writing Center director may release the consultant’s session notes to the student’s program director or department chair. If a student wishes to provide proof of a consultation, they may request a copy of their session notes from their consultant or the Writing Center Director.
How Many Consultations Can I Have?
We want to make sure that all Saint Mary’s students have a fair chance at getting appointments. You may have up to 90 minutes per week of appointment time and two responses per paper when appointments are available. Students working on capstones, dissertations, and other longer projects may request exceptions to this policy by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who have a documented disability may contact Access Services for assistance.
Do I Need an Appointment?
Appointment requirements vary by campus due to different staffing structures; however, appointments are always encouraged. You can make your own appointment on our website at write.smumn.edu. If a convenient time is not available, you can place your name on a waiting list and be notified automatically if a cancellation makes that time available. If you have a quick question, you are welcome to call or email without an appointment. If we have a few minutes free, we will try to answer your question; however, we will never interrupt another student’s session–whether in the Writing Center or online–to respond to an unscheduled question.
The first time you use the automated appointment procedure, you will be asked to complete a short registration before logging in. After that, you will log in with your password and Saint Mary’s email address. Note that our login accepts only Saint Mary’s email addresses.
If you are more than 10 minutes late to an appointment, the Writing Center reserves the right to open the appointment to another student. If you cannot make your scheduled appointment, we ask that you cancel your appointment through WCOnline (preferred), or by calling or e-mailing the Writing Center (612-728-5154; email@example.com).
How Should I Prepare for my Appointment?
For a face-to-face appointment*, bring the following:
- an electronic copy of your paper (uploaded to your appointment)
- a list of questions you want answered: what do you want to accomplish during your session?
- a copy of your instructor’s assignment guidelines
- your style manual (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago)
- information about your sources as explained below
*Due to social distancing guidelines, face-to-face appointments will occur via Zoom. Please see our appointment pages for up-to-date instructions.
For an email appointment, do the following:
- Submit an electronic copy of your paper or draft. Upload your paper by clicking on the yellow folder icon at the top left of the Writing Center schedule.
- In the comment section of your appointment, provide a list of questions you want answered: what do you want to accomplish from your email appointment?
- Provide a description of your assignment instructions or upload a copy with your paper.
- Provide information about your research sources as explained below.
Disclosure of Outside Sources
- If your paper requires outside sources, you must provide retrieval information for each source (author, date of publication, title, publisher information or URL).
- You must give a citation in your paper wherever you include information from an outside source.
- If you use phrases directly quoted from an outside source, you must place quotation marks around the quoted words. Writing Center consultants must be able to distinguish text that you composed from text that was composed by another author.