While professors expect first year graduate students to have mastered academic prose, I prioritize improving my students’ writing. In that pursuit, I spend a significant amount of time throughout the course demystifying and deconstructing the academic writing, revision, submission, and publication processes, and helping them establish their own daily practice.
With my graduate students, I try to make sure any written product for the course can be used either towards a program requirement (a comprehensive exam, a preliminary paper, a dissertation proposal) or a publishable paper.
I teach graduate students about research journals (a topic for another post) on the first day of class, and keeping up with them is a weekly assignment. Many students use evernote to keep their own notes, freewriting, and attachments organized.
I line-edit and provide comments on their papers using Track Changes in Microsoft Word, which seemed to work best for all of us in terms of the ease of turning work in and grading digitally, but also in terms of accepting changes and keeping track of comments and ideas as students moved through drafts over the year-long course.
At least twice per semester, I would set up a digital forum like this for my graduate students to post files to share in order to help each other out. During these in-class “writing workshops,” sometimes a student would want to troubleshoot a new research method, other times they would want to rework a research question, and still other times they would just want us to read what they had written to see if it sounded like they spent the right amount of time on the right things.