GSAS Writing Studio

The GSAS Writing Studio, which opened in September 2018, is dedicated to supporting Arts and Sciences doctoral students in the process of writing the dissertation.

The quiet writing stations in our newly renovated space on the third floor of Lehman Library are available on a first-come, first-served basis on weekdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Additional meeting rooms, including our downstairs Seminar Room (Room 321), are available by reservation for dissertation-related group work.

If you require accessibility accommodations, please contact us directly: [email protected].

All GSAS Writing Studio events, programs, spaces, and services are restricted for use to PhD and DMA students in these Arts and Sciences departments. Students from all other programs, departments, or schools are ineligible to use the GSAS Writing Studio or participate in its programs. A list of writing support resources available to doctoral students outside Arts and Sciences departments may be found here

Click here for the GSAS Writing Studio's booking page.

All Arts & Sciences PhD and DMA students 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.

Please note: Students visiting the GSAS Writing Studio must comply with the University's COVID 19 Public Health Protocols.

Make an appointment using the Studio's booking system.

Dissertation writers in Arts and Sciences departments may 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!

If you require accessibility accommodations, please contact us directly: [email protected].


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. 

Our Pomodoro sessions are open to all GSAS Arts & Sciences writers, including MA students. All Pomodoro sessions take place on Zoom. In Fall 2023, Pomodoro sessions will run at the following times:

  • Mondays 2:00-4:00pm
  • Tuesdays 10:00am-12:00pm
  • Wednesdays 10:00am-12:00pm
  • Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm

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

Registration for Fall 2023 Facilitated Dissertation-Writing Groups has closed. Registration for Spring 2024 Facilitated Dissertation-Writing Groups will open in January.

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. Find full descriptions of each group on the registration form above.

Registration for Fall 2023 Prospectus Club is now open. Register here.

Writers in the Prospectus Club will meet from 4:00-6:00pm, twice weekly for 4 weeks.

Session 1: Mondays and Wednesdays, Oct. 16-Nov. 1

Session 2: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nov. 14-Dec. 7 (will not meet on Thanksgiving; participants will decide on a makeup day)

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.

Best for: Writers in the humanities or social sciences who are starting to work on their dissertation prospectus/proposal and who could benefit from an interdisciplinary group of peers at a similar stage.

What to expect: By the end of 8 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.

NB: This is a four-week writing group that meets for two hours, twice a week. By signing up, you are committing to attendance at all 8 sessions.

Registration deadline: Wednesday, October 11

Fall 2023 Workshops 

Registration is now open for the following workshops. Sign up by using the Studio's booking system.

Make a Semester Writing Plan
Friday, September 8; 1:00-2:00 pm; remote, Zoom link to come
Tuesday, September 12; 4:00-5:00 pm; In-person: GSAS Writing Studio Seminar Room (321 Lehman Library, SIPA building)

Set yourself up for dissertation-writing success this semester. In this one-hour  workshop, you'll develop meaningful goals and set a plan for reaching them, including identifying support systems, safety nets, and other structures to help you succeed. This workshop is open to Arts & Sciences PhD students at any phase of the dissertation process, but is best suited to those who plan to write actively this semester.

Past Workshops

(If you'd be interested in our running another session, please let us know: [email protected])

Adaptive Strategies for Handling Writers' Block
Drawing on research from cognitive psychology, this workshop offers strategies for navigating the overwhelm and decision fatigue that often accompany large writing projects. Writers will leave the workshop with a better understanding of how to work with—not against—our brains, plus a menu of accessible options for moving through feelings of stuckness with energy and purpose.

Revitalizing Your Relationship with Your Dissertation
In this workshop, we'll take a step back from day-to-day writing tasks to examine how we conceptualize our current writing projects: a mountain climb, a marathon, a hamster wheel? These metaphors modulate our relationships with our dissertations, shaping the level of energy and flexibility we bring to our writing. Join us to experiment with new ways of conceptualizing your dissertation, and leave the workshop with fresh perspective and renewed motivation.

Developing a Sustainable Writing Practice
In this workshop, we will invite you to reflect on your existing writing process, experiment with new strategies drawn from experts' research on sustainable writing habits, and plan how to incorporate new ideas into your ongoing practice. In addition, we'll encourage you to approach productive, sustainable—but not punitive—long-term writing practice as one way to formulate a new (or evolving) identity as a scholar.

Strategies for What to Do When You're Stuck
In this workshop, we'll offer a range of strategies for moving through tricky moments in the drafting and revision process.

Soliciting Effective Feedback
When you send a chapter to your advisor or committee member, what do you write in the body of the email? In this 90-minute workshop, writers will reflect on how they communicate with their readers and practice drafting a "cover letter" for their writing, in which they ask for the kind of feedback that will be most helpful to them.

Revise and Resubmit
In this informal workshop, we offer strategies for incorporating reader feedback into revisions. We'll discuss productive methods for working with in-text comments, tracked changes, and narrative feedback from faculty, peers, and reviewers. This workshop is ideal for dissertation writers who would like to approach the revision process with increased confidence.

Write an Effective Dissertation Abstract
In this workshop, we tackle one of the trickiest, highest-impact writing tasks required of us as dissertation writers: the abstract. We'll offer strategies for developing a clear, concise, and exciting articulation of your work. Participants will leave with tools that they can use in developing dissertation abstracts for grants/fellowships, the job market, and the deposit.

Scrivener 101
Scrivener's writer-designed interface makes it one of the most powerful tools available for drafting long, complex, researched works. In this informal workshop, we'll offer participants a first-hand look at how we use the program in our own writing: to organize sources and citations, create flexible chapter outlines, record ideas that are still under development, make deep cuts and radical revisions, and encourage a sustainable, steady writing practice.

Make the Most of a Dissertation Progress Meeting
Join us for a one-hour workshop that will help you approach dissertation progress meetings confidently and productively!  We'll talk about how to schedule a committee meeting, set a productive agenda, and invite the feedback that will be most helpful to you. We'll also troubleshoot common stressors like elusive advisors and confusing revision directives. Participants will leave the workshop with a plan for how to structure and lead their next committee meeting.

Revision Strategies for the Dissertation
This workshop offers concrete methods for revising long, complex drafts. We’ll help you find simple, new ways to rethink structure, sharpen argument, and incorporate specific, high-stakes reader feedback. 

Zotero for the Dissertation
In this informal workshop, we will offer participants a first-hand look at using Zotero to aid the dissertation-writing process. We will discuss citation management as well as Zotero's more general database functionality, with a focus on using Zotero to manage large quantities of archival source material. Most useful to writers in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

LaTeX for the Dissertation
In this informal workshop, we'll offer participants a firsthand look at how we use LaTeX in our own dissertation writing. Note: While this workshop will discuss the GSAS dissertation template in LaTex, it is not designed as a tutorial.

Jumpstart Your Prospectus
This 90-minute workshop is designed for PhD students in the Humanities and Social Sciences who would like to kickstart their prospectus/dissertation proposal this Fall. We will think together about how to structure a prospectus to fit your disciplinary needs, and talk about the different models you might follow. You will leave with an outline and a plan for executing your prospectus.

Archive Basics for Non-historians: Pandemic Edition
Does your dissertation require archival research, but you're not sure where to start? The Writing Studio's consultant-historians are here to help! In this hour-long workshop, we will cover basics: planning archival research; tips and tricks to make the most out of your research time; tools for organizing your research; and ideas for integrating your findings into your writing upon your return.  In light of the current impossibility of traveling to archives, we will also discuss strategies for doing archival research remotely. Participants will learn a variety of strategies and will have the opportunity to draft an individualized research plan.

How to Use the Word Template for your Dissertation Most Effectively
GSAS has devised a dissertation template for students in Word, based on the existing guidelines required for formal deposit. In this workshop, we will offer an overview, answer questions, and help writers get started. Please note: though GSAS also offers a template in LaTeX, this workshop will focus exclusively on the Word template.

Copyright Issues and the Dissertation
Rina Elster Pantalony, Director of Copyright Advisory Services at Columbia University Libraries, will lead this 90-minute workshop on how to avoid potential last-minute, dissertation-related copyright issues. She will recommend resources and answer questions from students.

This Is How I...Write an Effective Dissertation Abstract
In this workshop, we tackle one of the trickiest, highest-stakes writing tasks required of us as scholars: the abstract. We'll offer strategies for developing a clear, concise, and exciting articulation of your work. Participants will leave with tools that they can use in developing abstracts for conferences, grant applications, and dissertation deposit.

Managing Copyright Issues in STEM Dissertations
Rina Elster Pantalony, Director of Copyright Advisory Services at Columbia University Libraries, leads this 90-minute workshop on how to navigate the particular copyright issues that arise in the sciences. The workshop addresses:

  • Rights in data and data sets
  • IP ownership of data obtained from third parties
  • Rights concerning graphs, charts and survey questions
  • Use of published articles as chapters in a dissertation
  • IP ownership and co-authorship in research output

Applications for the Studio's Summer 2023 Dissertation-Writers' Retreat (Monday, August 28-Thursday, August 31, 2023) are closed. Our next writing retreat will take place in January 2024. 

After three years of fully remote retreats, the Studio will be offering both in-person and remote options! This retreat will be composed of two 2-day sessions, one in-person and one remote. Writers may apply to either or both.

Session 1: In-Person (Monday 8/28 & Tuesday 8/29) During this session, we will meet in the GSAS Writing Studio (Lehman Library, SIPA building). To support focus, we will provide a light breakfast and lunch alongside our usual offerings of coffee and snacks. Due to space constraints, only 20 writers will be admitted to Session 1.

Session 2: Remote (Wednesday 8/30 & Thursday 8/31) During this session, we will meet remotely via Zoom. However, NYC-based writers are welcome to work in the Studio. Food will not be provided in this session, but we'll keep the coffee brewing all day.

League of Defenders will next run in Spring 2024. 

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 September 1 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.

HYBRID: Participants may join via Zoom and/or in person in the GSAS Writing Studio.

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.

Peer Dissertation-Writing Groups

The GSAS Writing Studio offers facilitated dissertation-writing groups to current dissertation-stage students in Arts & Sciences departments.

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 Dissertation 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.

Make a reservation using the Studio's booking system.

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 2-8: Reserve a room in the Studio’s upstairs mezzanine space (319M Lehman Library). Room A seats eight and 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.

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


  • The GSAS Writing Studio's events, programs, spaces, and services are restricted for use by PhD students in these Arts and Sciences departments who are already in the dissertation phase of their program.
  • 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 doctoral students outside Arts and Sciences departments may be found here.

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.
  • Registrants will be emailed promptly by email of the status of their reservation request.
  • 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, Assistant Director of the GSAS Writing Studio, with any questions or suggestions at [email protected].

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.