GSAS Writing Studio

Dissertation writers at work during a retreat.

The GSAS Writing Studio, which opened in September 2018, is dedicated to supporting Arts and Sciences graduate students in the process of writing dissertations and MA theses.

The Studio offers workshops, writing groups, retreats, structured co-working time, and quiet writing stations in our newly renovated space on the third floor of Lehman Library. Additional meeting rooms, including our downstairs Seminar Room, are available by reservation for dissertation-related group work. All GSAS Writing Studio programs are restricted for use to GSAS graduate students in these Arts and Sciences departments; some, including use of the Studio's physical space, are also restricted to students in the dissertation-writing phase of the PhD. 

If you have questions regarding accessibility or accommodations, please contact us directly: [email protected].

Opportunities for Draft Feedback

Draft Feedback Coffee Hour
Friday, April 19, 2:30-4:00 pm ET
Lehman 321

Calling all MA thesis writers! The GSAS Writing Studio is hosting a coffee hour in which you can receive peer feedback on your thesis writing process. Studio staff will be on hand to share best practices for asking for and offering feedback, and there will be plenty of time for you and a partner to read each other's work and discuss. This event is best suited to MA students who are actively writing a thesis this spring. Coffee and tea will be served. Register to attend here.

Focused Writing Time

Need dedicated time for writing? Sign up for Pomodoros!

Join fellow graduate students for 2-hour blocks of accountability and community with our Pomodoro sessions. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute block of work + 5-minute break. Breaking a longer writing session into a series of Pomodoros can help writers stay focused and meet their writing goals. 

Our Pomodoro sessions are open to all GSAS Arts & Sciences writers. They run at the following times:

  • Mondays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)
  • Tuesdays 10:00am-12:00pm **Hybrid: Writers are encouraged to meet in Lehman 321; coffee provided. Remote option available.
  • Wednesdays 10:00am-12:00pm (remote)
  • Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)

Sign up here to receive the Zoom link and a weekly reminder of upcoming sessions. 

Peer Writing Groups

Registration for Spring 2024 MA thesis writing groups has closed. We will run this program again in Summer 2024; registration will open in April.

Working on your MA thesis this semester? Develop a strong writing routine by joining an interdisciplinary group of fellow MA thesis writers for accountability, goal-setting, co-working, or draft feedback. Groups will begin meeting in January, and meet regularly throughout the spring semester. Remote and in-person options available.

Registration deadline: January 10, 2024.

Workshops

Our four-part workshop series for MA thesis writers has concluded. This series will run again starting in October 2024.

NB: Prospectus writers in the third year or above of an Arts and Sciences PhD program are also eligible to use the Studio's resources for dissertation writers (see below). 

Focused Writing Time

Need dedicated time for writing? Sign up for Pomodoros!

Join fellow graduate students for 2-hour blocks of accountability and community with our Pomodoro sessions. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute block of work + 5-minute break. Breaking a longer writing session into a series of Pomodoros can help writers stay focused and meet their writing goals. 

Our Pomodoro sessions are open to all GSAS Arts & Sciences writers. They run at the following times:

  • Mondays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)
  • Tuesdays 10:00am-12:00pm **Hybrid: Writers are encouraged to meet in Lehman 321; coffee provided. Remote option available.
  • Wednesdays 10:00am-12:00pm (remote)
  • Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)

Sign up here to receive the Zoom link and a weekly reminder of upcoming sessions. 

Prospectus Club

Registration for Spring 2024 Prospectus Club has closed. We will run this program again in Fall 2024.

Working on your dissertation prospectus or proposal this spring? Join us for The Prospectus Club! Find support, dedicated writing time, and accountability as you clarify your ideas and get words on the page. By the end of 6 sessions, writers will have a working draft of their prospectus. Writers should expect a high level of participation and engagement, and will be expected to share their ideas and drafts with fellow group members.

This group meet twice weekly at 4:00-6:00pm for 3 weeks: Mondays and Wednesdays, February 19 - March 6.

All sessions will be held remotely on Zoom. A Zoom link will be sent out to registered students prior to the start of the first session.

Registration deadline: Monday, February 12

All Arts & Sciences PhD and DMA students in or beyond their third year should have received an email inviting them to register a password with the booking system. If you did not receive this invitation, please email [email protected] and request that it be resent.

Workshops

Strategies for When You're Stuck
Tuesday, April 16; 2:00-3:00 pm (Register)
Lehman 321 

In this workshop, we'll offer a range of strategies for moving through tricky moments in the drafting and revision process. Walk away with a set of tools to draw on next time you run into a writing-related roadblock. Click here to register.

One-on-One Consultations

Make an appointment by using the Studio's booking system.

Schedule a forty-five-minute, one-on-one consultation with one of the Studio’s trained consultants. We can help you make a writing plan, organize a chapter, develop a concise articulation of a big idea, or revise an existing draft. Bring us whatever you're working on and we'll jump right in!

Focused Writing Time

Need dedicated time to focus on writing? Sign up for Pomodoros!

Join fellow graduate students for 2-hour blocks of accountability and community with our Pomodoro sessions. A Pomodoro is a 25-minute block of work + 5-minute break. Breaking a longer writing session into a series of Pomodoros can help writers stay focused and meet their writing goals. 

Pomodoro sessions run at the following times:

  • Mondays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)
  • Tuesdays 10:00am-12:00pm **Hybrid: Writers are encouraged to meet in Lehman 321; coffee provided. Remote option available.
  • Wednesdays 10:00am-12:00pm (remote)
  • Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm (remote)

Sign up here to receive the Zoom link and a weekly reminder of upcoming sessions. 

Dissertation Writing Retreats

Our next Dissertation Writing Retreat will run May 20-23, 2024. This year, we will also run an additional early summer retreat June 3-6, 2024. Applications for both retreats will open in mid-April.

While the main goal is to provide dissertation writers ample time to write, brief goal setting meetings will help frame the day’s work. Writers will also have the opportunity to attend afternoon workshops offering strategies for navigating common dissertation-writing challenges. To support focus, we will provide a light breakfast and lunch as well as coffee and snacks. Due to space constraints, only 20 writers will be admitted. 

Room Reservations

The GSAS Writing Studio offers meeting space to PhD students in Arts and Sciences departments for dissertation-related group work. All rooms are equipped with whiteboards. Reservations are available until 10:00pm daily.

Please note that these rooms are to be used for dissertation work only. They may not be used for grading, by organizations, to make phone calls, or for meetings with people other than peers.

Groups of 2-3: Reserve Room B or C in the Studio’s upstairs mezzanine space (319M Lehman Library). 

Groups of 4-8: Reserve Room A in the Studio’s upstairs mezzanine space (319M Lehman Library). Room A seats is equipped with a media screen.

Groups of 9-16: Reserve the Studio’s downstairs Seminar Room (321 Lehman Library), which is equipped with a media screen. This room is wheelchair accessible.

Dissertation Writing Groups

Registration for Spring 2024 Facilitated Dissertation Writing Groups has closed.

The Studio's writing groups are interdisciplinary by design and include a range of options: short and long blocks of co-working time; remote and in-person meetings; some groups offering draft feedback and others focused solely on accountability and community. 

League of Defenders

Registration for League of Defenders has closed. If you are interested in joining, email [email protected].

Are you aiming to distribute this semester? Join others on a similar timeline for protected writing time, goal-setting, accountability, and an interdisciplinary cheering section. This Studio-facilitated group offers regular, protected writing time for those who are working hard to complete their dissertations before the May 16 distribution deadline. We will build community, offer support, and maintain collective accountability. Meetings will mostly prioritize structured goal-setting and dedicated stretches of focused writing, but may occasionally include information-sharing about institutional requirements and end-stage dissertation issues.

Dissertation Templates

GSAS has developed dissertation templates in Word and LaTeX, based on the existing guidelines required for formal deposit.

Dissertation Copyright Information

The GSAS Writing Studio and Copyright Advisory Services at Columbia University Libraries have developed a copyright management tool. It offers dissertation writers whose work will include multiple images a way to collect and organize rights-related information throughout the research process, enabling them to assess on a use-by-use basis whether their uses are fair uses or whether permission to use the works will be necessary.

Download the copyright management tool by clicking here.

The use of this worksheet is governed by a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.  Attribution should be given to the GSAS Writing Studio at Columbia University and Copyright Advisory Services at Columbia University Libraries, representing the Trustees of Columbia University, rightsholders.

Director of Copyright Advisory Services, Rina Elster Pantalony, has also put together a series of short, informal videos to address frequently-asked questions around copyright and the dissertation.

For further information on how to navigate copyright issues surrounding dissertation research and related publication, please visit the Copyright Advisory Services website.

Digital Tools for Writing *NEW*

Our Digital Tools for Writing guide orients thesis and dissertation writers to software options ranging from the familiar (Scrivener, Zotero) to the unexpected (OmmWriter, Forest). Whether you are just starting a project, encountering writer's block, or looking for new ways to stay focused, you'll find tools to support your writing process in this guide. 

Peer Writing Groups

For all students wishing to start their own peer-feedback or accountability writing groups, the Studio offers these resources:

Our Accountability Partners Guide offers guidance on how to work effectively with a writing accountability partner.

Our Writing Group Checklist takes you step-by-step through the questions to consider when setting up a new group.

Our Peer-Feedback Guides offer tips for getting the most out of working with fellow writers:

Goal-Setting and Time Management

For both groups and individuals, developing and stating specific goals at the start of a writing session can help structure and frame the time effectively.

GSAS Writing Studio Worksheets:

Work-from-Home and Wellness

The Columbia Office of Work/Life has compiled an excellent collection of resources related to working remotely and maintaining physical and mental health.

The GSAS Writing Studio is located inside Lehman Library, in the SIPA building. Click here to view a map of Lehman Library.

  • The Studio’s mezzanine space is located on the west side of Lehman Library, in 319M (West Reading Room). Once you pass through Lehman Library’s main turnstile, turn right. The stairs up to the mezzanine level are located at the near end of the reading room.
  • The GSAS Writing Studio Seminar Room is located on east side of the library, in 321 Lehman. Once you pass through Lehman Library’s main turnstile, turn left. This room is available by reservation only; the keys may be obtained from Lehman’s circulation-desk librarians after you have reserved the room online (see above). This room is wheelchair accessible.

From 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, the GSAS Writing Studio's physical space is restricted for use by PhD students in Arts and Sciences departments who are already in the dissertation phase of their program.

General Policies

  • The GSAS Writing Studio's events, programs, spaces, and services are restricted for use by GSAS graduate students in these Arts and Sciences departments.
  • Students from all other programs, departments, or schools are ineligible to use the GSAS Writing Studio or to participate in its programs. A list of writing support resources available to students outside of GSAS may be found here.
  • Certain GSAS Writing Studio programs are reserved for doctoral students in the dissertation-writing phase of their program. Currently, these programs include retreats, dissertation-writing groups, one-on-one consultations, and room reservations. 

Room Use Policies 

  • Arts and Sciences dissertation writers may reserve meeting room space for one to four hours at a time, in hour-long blocks.
  • Arts and Sciences dissertation-writing groups may reserve space for up to four hours per day, and up to ten hours per week.
  • GSAS Writing Studio spaces may be used for dissertation-writing only. They may not be used as classrooms, recitation rooms, lecture rooms, or TA grading rooms; for office hours; or as venues for social gatherings or student organization meetings.

One-on-One Consultation Policies

  • Arts and Sciences dissertation writers may make appointments for one-on-one consultations with trained Studio consultants.
  • Writers are limited to two appointments per week (1 scheduled appointment + 1 drop-in OR scheduled appointment, if available); no more than one visit per day; and no more than eight visits total per semester.

No-Show and Lateness Policies 

  • A writer or group is considered a no-show if they have not arrived or communicated with us by 15 minutes after the start of the appointment, room booking, or event, according to Studio clocks.
  • Writers who miss two one-on-one appointments without canceling in advance lose their appointment-making privileges for the remainder of the semester. They are still welcome to make use of drop-in appointments, when available.
  • Writers who no-show three times for events, appointments, or room bookings will not be considered for a GSAS Writing Studio Dissertation-Writers' Retreat and may be automatically placed on the waitlist for other events.

Please write to Jess Engebretson, Interim Director of the GSAS Writing Studio, with any questions or suggestions at [email protected].