The Graphos Student Experience

Take your graduate work to the next level.

Taking advantage of Graphos offerings can help you to communicate complex ideas more fluidly and strategically. How? Read below to learn more about what Graphos has to offer and how our programming has benefited your peers. 





Dorelle - CCOM 614 Communicating Science to the Public

"I've learned to become a more eloquent scientific writer."


Dorelle completed a PhD at McGill where she researched mobility and the brain. See how she complemented her doctoral training by taking Continuing Studies French language courses and participating in Graphos courses (CCOM 614 and CEAP 643, a previous iteration of the current lit review courses, CEAP 661 Summary and Critique and CEAP 665 Establishing Scholarly Niches) and writing retreats.


Qiman - CEAP 652 Fundamentals of Academic Presentations

"Graphos courses made a profound impact on my research communication style." 

3MT winners at the IADR 2019 in Vancouver.

Qiman has been an enthusiastic supporter of our work over the course of her PhD. She’s participated in workshops, retreats, and taken several Graphos courses: CEAP 661 Literature Review I: Summary and Critique, CEAP 665 Lit Review II: Establishing Scholarly Niches and CEAP 652 Fundamentals of Academic Presentations. This last course, taught by Dr. Andrew Churchill, provided her with a structure to hone her message while paying attention to different features of academic presentations (spoken text, visuals on slides, nonverbal communication). The tools, practice, feedback, and final presentation in the class gave her the preparation and confidence to be awarded the 2nd prize in the 3MT at the biggest conference in dentistry (IADR 2019 – Vancouver).

In her own words: "Graphos courses made a profound impact on my research communication style, and guided me through the communicational difficulties as a international student. I communicate better with my supervisor and colleagues using the skills I acquired from Graphos. The writing workshops helped me maintain good writing habits.”



"It made me think about writing differently."

What are Graphos workshops like? Here is a sample of offerings, and what participants took away from the sessions.

Tracing Melody and Rhythm in Writing - summer 2020 

Have you ever noticed how a good paper or article can sing to you as you read it? In this workshop, we raised attendees’ awareness of the musical aspects of a text that may help writers “compose” writing that flows well.

When asked about what was most useful, here’s what people said:

"The comparison between songs and writing, at the beginning. It made me think about writing differently."
-Postdoctoral Fellow

"I found the very last sections that went into the subtler nuances of writing (stylistic devices) to be the most helpful."
-PhD student

"The whole session was excellent. It offered a new perspective on writing. At the point where I am at with some of my papers, it will definitely help me polish my writing."
-PhD student

The Ins and Outs of Writing (and Publishing) an Academic Book Review – summer 2020

This workshop dealt with pitching and writing academic book reviews, pitching articles to popular publications and evaluating other scholarship as a research tool.

Here is what some of the participants appreciated most:

"The reviews provided as "homework" were well chosen. They contained enough contrast (style, content) to provoke thoughtful reflection before the workshop. "Popular Book Reviews" was new for me, so I particularly enjoyed that segment. I also appreciated the host's willingness to respond to questions, even if it's always a challenge to find that balance between presentation and facilitation."
-PhD student

"There was one thing she said that really boosted my confidence. One of the participants asked if we had enough qualifications to write a good book/article review and [the facilitator] said that of course we did. We made it this far in our degrees and often are writing is critiqued and criticized a lot, so it was really helpful for me to get that reassurance from her."
-PhD student



"...part of a real community of writers..."

Rise and Write

For those wanting to shake up their writing routine, these group writing sessions allow participants to follow a specific time management method with other motivated writers. As popular as the in-person sessions were, Graphos was able to increase its reach and audience by going online when the University was closed due to the pandemic. For some, the benefits reach far beyond reaching academic goals:

"Many thanks to the Graphos team for setting this up! I did the Rise and Write series over the summer, and it was invaluable to me. I learned so much from the host and the other participants, and came to view myself as part of a real community of writers. I cannot thank you enough for bringing such incredible positivity into my life (and the lives of others, I'm sure) during these grim and confusing times. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
-Master's student

2- and 3-Day Dissertation Writing Retreats

These extremely popular events allow participants to carve out a block of dedicated time to get ahead with the motivation that comes from working in the company of other focused writers. What are they like, and what do people get out of it?

"I liked [the] space: table chair set up, sofa, group tables. We could choose where we wanted to work. The best part was "STRETCHING" in all sense in terms of actual physical stretching and in terms of stretching yourself to write."

"It gave me uncluttered "writing blocks" free from din and bustle of the city. The nature break was revelation for me. I would often go back in my own time to have these experiences"

"Although my goals changed completely from what I had set out to do before the retreat, I was able to edit the last chapter of my thesis, organise the extra information I had that will be useful for my defense, made 3 new graphs with my latest data and rewrote the 2 pages of discussion related to those new graphs."

"It's very difficult to replicate this experience on your own. The structure and accountability of a room full of people makes this an incredibly helpful environment."

"This retreat has been one of the most positive experiences in my time as a graduate (MA) student. Being an international student , taking the time out for making a social circle along with work requirements has been difficult & thus making graduate studies a very isolating experience - something I have heard multiple students experiencing. Social writing has allowed me to narrow the gap between social contact & work productivity - immensely contributing to my mental health."



"... I actually enjoy writing now because of this process..."

What's a peer writing group, and would you benefit from participating in one? Let Alice tell you what it's like in the Q&A, below. 

1. How would you describe the experience of being in the peer writing group?

Rich and fun - You get to improve your writing skills but also find ways to strengthen your arguments. At the same time, you are helping others do the same. That in itself is fun because you get to learn about their research and learn from the ways they structure their ideas too. As English is my second language, I always felt that I was a bad writer, so enjoying this experience was very unexpected.  

2. What did you gain from being a member of the peer writing group? What do you think you offered to others in the group?  

Skills, structured guidance, feedback on all my writing (which I thought would be very intimidating but it wasn't at all due to the group norms and guidelines we had), and friends. Because our research was so dear to each of us for different reasons, it poured into our conversations and writing, and became a quick way to learn about each other. A number of us connected with one another quickly. I am still good friends with one member of my PWG. These are all the things I gained. I hope others in the group felt that I was able to offer them the same.

3. Would you recommend it to other graduate students – and why?

Absolutely! After my first PWG, I joined again and again. Altogether, I think I joined PWG for 4-5 years during my whole PhD. I learned so much in the process and shared the opportunity to join with any new friend seeking more help with their writing. As for why? I believe my comments above clarify my rationale.

4. Any other comments?

Writing is a process. It takes time and it is not easy at all. However, the process can be enjoyable and exploratory. The PWG taught me that it doesn't have to be a robotic and gruelling process. Though it was a really awkward and new experience to talk about my writing at first, the easy and comfortable environments in my PWG made it very natural. Now, I can't imagine writing without seeking feedback first and talking through the ups and downs with a friend. It's cheesy and weird to think of, but I actually enjoy writing now because of this process with others and the structures that Donetta, Mariève, Matthew, and other PWG facilitators shared with me in the past. 



"...the help I have received so far has been amazing."

If you need help with your writing, the MWC tutors are here for you. They can review your work in progress and help you organize your ideas, express yourself clearly, make convincing arguments, and reach the right audience. Appointments are currently held online. Student evaluations show that 100% of users would recommend the service. So what's it like to meet with a MWC tutor, and what do students get out of it?

"She was helpful in explaining how to structure the assignment and getting to the root of what it was asking for instead of generalisations."

"He explains in detail and with patience the reason for the changes and clarifies the rules."

"The tutor gave me some useful tips about syntax, grammar and consistency."

"I learned about my grammar blindspots."


And the most consistent suggestion from our users:

"Have more availability so I can use the writing center more because the help I received so far has been amazing"


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