GWS Policies

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The Graduate Writing Service is generally flexible in our work with writers, but the following guidelines may help you to better understand how we function.


Writers can schedule three different types of appointments: they can meet with GWS tutors on campus at 172 Rockefeller Hall (face-to-face appointments are currently suspended); they can meet with GWS tutors for a 60-minute digital appointment using an internet-based video, audio, or synchronous messaging platform (select Online Tutoring), or they can submit a draft for a GWS tutor's written feedback (select eTutoring).

Cancelation Policy

Writers should cancel tutoring appointments no less than 8 hours before the scheduled appointment.

We understand that you may not realize until the last minute that you cannot attend your tutoring appointment. As a courtesy to tutors and to wait-listed writers, please be sure to cancel as soon as possible.

If you miss three appointments (without canceling them), your WC Online account will be automatically disabled.  

Editing/Proofreading Policy

Editing is a crucial part of the writing process. In order to produce precise and polished prose, writers must direct attention to the sentence-level. And, as is the case when refining prose for clarity and concision, developing strategies for editing your own work requires time, practice, and patience.

Tutors at the Graduate Writing Service are available to provide certain kinds of micro-level support. Tutors will clarify rules, explain conventions, provide examples, and guide writers as they revise their own sentences. Tutors will discuss style, language, and rhetorical choices. But tutors are not editors – they cannot correct grammar, syntax, punctuation, or typographical errors. With sentence-level work, the tutor's goal will be to help you identify an error and correct it on your own. 

Here are some of the reasons why we have a NO-EDITING policy:

  • There is no pedagogical value in having a tutor edit a writer's paper. Writers do not learn when other people correct errors for them. The GWS’s primary goal is to ensure that students have access to learning opportunities, so during tutoring sessions, tutors use specific pieces of writing to engage broader discussions about academic writing and to encourage robust interventions into student writing processes.
  • Copyediting someone else’s writing requires a highly specialized skill set. Writing tutors are not professional editors; they simply do not have the training, experience, or desire to perform such technical work.
  • Tutors are Cornell University students themselves. They cannot complete assignments for other students. As such, deep collaboration of this kind, line-by-line editing, could violate Cornell University’s Code of Academic Integrity and thus put writers and tutors at risk.
Editing/Proofreading Strategies

Editing is hard work. Even experienced writers can come up against severe obstacles as they hone in on the word, paragraph, or page: Writers may be fatigued or stressed or facing a new kind of writing task. They might speak and write other languages, or they might be managing learning differences or disabilities.  They might have knowledge gaps or unevenly developed skills. They might be reaching to learn.

Tutors at the Graduate Writing Service are eager to help writers become more confident, efficient, and effective readers and editors of their own writing. Here are several typical strategies tutors will use for sentence-level writing work: 

  • LOCATE PATTERNS. Writing tutors read through significant portions of a writing project (no more than 5 pages) and identify ONLY phrases or sentences in which a writer's choices interfere with clear and effective communication. Writing tutors, for instance, may observe grammatical or mechanical errors (such as, run-on sentences or subject-verb agreement); and/or syntactical habits that obscure clarity (such as, overusing "this" and "that" or nominalizations). Writing tutors circle recurring patterns or put check marks in the margins to signal repetition. Writing tutors then explain what they see and work with writers to revise, if appropriate.
  • SELECT A PASSAGE OF TEXT. Writing tutors read through a short section of a writing project (one paragraph, perhaps, but no more than one page) and identify a range of grammatical, mechanical, or syntactical issues. Writing tutors circle phrases or sentences throughout the short section or put check marks in the margins to indicate questions about a writer's choices in the marked lines.
  • READ OUT LOUD. Writing tutors listen as writers read aloud portions of their writing (no more than 3-5 pages) and mark any places where writers say something different than what is on the page. Alternatively, writing tutors read papers out loud while writers mark any places that do not sound as intended.