Online Guides and Tutorials

Support when you need it: our online guides and tutorials offer in-depth help on demand

Work through the resources on your own time to discover more about

  • managing your time, taking notes, reading effectively, and beating procrastination
  • strategies for research
  • planning and drafting essays, papers, dissertations, and articles
  • writing with style and appropriate grammar
  • academic integrity and the disciplines
  • expectations in the Canadian academic context

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We also provide PDFs of all of our resources.

Academic skills and strategies

 

Academics 101 - A series of online lessons designed to prepare you for undergraduate studies at Queen's University.

Levelling up: second-year - A series of online lessons designed to prepare you for your second year of undergraduate studies at Queen's University, and help you acclimate to campus life.

Academic integrity - This tutorial will help you: understand why academic integrity matters; know how to avoid violating academic integrity; practice academic integrity in exams, assignments, and group work; and see how practicing academic integrity will improve your academic work.

 

Reading - Reading is an integral part of learning at university, but with so much to read it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Effective reading strategies and approaches can help all students to be more intentional and efficient readers.

Notetaking - Taking good notes is a skill: good notes will help you remember what you’ve read and heard. It benefits both learning and studying.

Focus and concentration - Being able to concentrate on schoolwork is critical for learning and studying. It’s also a skill that you can develop.

Motivation and procrastination - Do you ever feel like you just can’t get started?  You’re not alone. Avoiding tasks and putting things off is a habit, and you can change it.

Perfectionism - With perfectionism, the stakes—and often the stress levels—are always high. “Good enough” is never actually good enough in a perfectionist’s mindset, regardless of circumstances or context.

Time management - Being clear about what’s important to you and using your time intentionally will help you have a satisfying, successful, less stressful university experience.

Academic stress - Every student faces stress sometimes. You may not always be able to avoid it, but you can make choices that can help you stay resilient and positive.

Test anxiety - A resource for students who feel anxious about tests and exams. Start by understanding how anxiety works, how you typically respond, and develop tools to help.

Communicating with professors or TAs - From contacting your professor and attending office hours, to working with TAs and email etiquette.

Group work - Many students find group work challenging—however, it is a common part of undergraduate and graduate learning.

Math problem solving - Math takes time. To keep going even when it’s difficult, you need a plan and you need to use your resources. You don’t have to figure this out on your own!

Online learning - Whether you’re taking a course entirely online or one that combines on-campus tutorials with internet-based discussion and lectures (a “blended” course), online learning requires special skills.

Presentation skills - Presentations are common in academia and the broader workplace, so developing your presentation skills and confidence will serve you well, long-term, in a variety of contexts.

Memory - Memory is critical to academic success. It helps you learn, and do well on exams, but it also helps you develop your own ideas, join in academic discussions, interview for jobs, and much more.

Tests and exams - Exams are a turning point in the year, signalling the end of a term’s hard work. Although this time of year is usually busy and often stressful for students, our strategies will help you do your best.

Writing skills

 

Assignment planner - A tool that breaks assignments down into manageable parts and provides support toward their completion.

How to write more - We can’t help you find more time in your life, but we hope this resource will help you make good use of the time you have.

Managing large assignments - Assignments can be daunting. We’ve put together some resources and tips on how to ease the process.

The writing process - How to break writing down into specific, smaller steps. What to do and how to get help if you get stuck.

 

 

Common assignment terminology - To determine what you are being asked to do, it is helpful to start with the terminology used in the assignment description.

Developing an outline - An outline isn’t set in stone; you can change it as your thinking develops, but it is a helpful way to see the “skeleton” of your paper in advance.

Thesis statements - Once you’ve spent some time exploring the material you want to use and organizing your observations, you will need to start developing your thesis—the central argument of your paper.

 

 

Introductions and conclusions - Your introduction creates the reader’s first impression of your essay and previews the essay’s content, while conclusions are meant to provide a satisfying and graceful close.

Organizing your paper - An organized paper presents a clear, orderly argument. Organizing your papers will help you keep your readers’ interest, respond fully to the assignment instructions, and demonstrate your scholarly growth to your instructors.

Paragraphing - When you edit a paragraph, look at the functions of the sentences involved. What point are you trying to make, and how are you choosing to argue it? Why is the point significant in light of both previous ideas and the overall paper?

Topic sentences - Almost all well-ordered paragraphs begin with a topic sentence, which introduces the main idea you’ll discuss in the paragraph. Good topic sentences in an essay make it easy for the reader to follow the writer’s argumentative thread.

 

 

Eliminating wordiness - Good academic writing is clear and concise. Here are twelve strategies that can help you reduce wordiness in your own writing.

Inclusive language - Scholars and professionals alike are expected to write inclusively, that is, to demonstrate respect for all people, to welcome everyone to academic conversations, to value multiple ways of knowing and learning, to recognize every person’s agency, contribution, and right to belong.

The reverse outline - Many writers find it helpful to create a reverse outline to review a rough draft in terms of the bigger picture, before they edit it at the sentence level. 

Self-editing checklist - Use this guide to edit your writing for grammar and sentence-level concerns.

Transitions - Not only do you need to show the relationships between the ideas within a paragraph, but you must also move naturally between major points in different paragraphs. This ability to make successful transitions between ideas contributes to the overall flow and coherence of your paper.

Write like a scholar - Academic language is like a dialect; it’s a subset of English that is used for a specific purpose—academic speaking and writing—and understood by a specific audience—academics.

 

Graduate writing

Graduate writing - Expect the writing to go smoothly sometimes, and badly or not at all at other times. This inconsistency is normal; don’t let it discourage you, but if you are stuck, get help from your supervisor, supportive colleagues or a writing consultant at SASS.

Forming student writing groups - The ultimate goal of a thesis or dissertation writing group is to help members of the group complete the writing required for a graduate degree, and have as positive an experience as possible.

Analyzing disciplinary expectations - As you develop your authorial voice, it’s helpful to understand how scholars in your academic field follow conventions around structure, argument, use of evidence, style, etc. This tool can help you produce a list of writing conventions to adopt.

Managing large assignments - Producing a piece of academic writing can be a daunting project. We’ve put together some resources and tips on how to ease the process of writing.

Dissertation Calculator (University of Minnesota)

Thesis formatting & other resources (Queen's Libraries)

Professional editing services (School of Graduate Studies)

Academic integrity

 

What is AI? Why does it matter? - In this section, you’ll find information about what “academic integrity” means, why it matters, what counts as academic dishonesty, and how we can help you maintain your academic integrity while you’re at Queen’s.

Academic integrity: interactive module - This tutorial will help you:

  • understand why academic integrity matters 
  • know how to avoid violating academic integrity
  • practice academic integrity in exams, assignments, and group work 
  • see how practicing academic integrity will improve your academic work.

Avoiding plagiarism - Avoid plagiarism by following and understanding standard documentation formats, learning how to note-take effectively, and properly incorporating sources within your own insights.

 

Citation styles - Citation styles are a set of rules or standards established by a specific society, association, or publisher for documenting various sources of information. (Queen's Libraries)

Evaluating sources - Carefully evaluate each source you find to determine if it is appropriate for your research. Here is a checklist for criteria used to judge information sources, particularly books. (Queen's Libraries)

Integrating sources - How to use signal phrases, paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing to integrate sources into your writing.

Grammar and punctuation

Active and passive voice - Writers are sometimes puzzled by active versus passive voice, but a few simple steps will help you identify which of the two you’re dealing with.

Articles - Definite articles (the) modify a noun that describes a particular thing. Indefinite articles (a or an) modify a noun that describes a generality.

Articles with count & non-count nouns - Before articles can be used correctly, it is important to understand how count and non-count nouns are used.

Fragments, comma splices, run-ons - Sentence fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences are three common errors in sentence building.

Modifiers and how to use them - A modifier qualifies, limits, enhances, or in some way alters the meaning of a word or other element in a sentence. Modifiers may be single words, phrases, or clauses.

Pronoun agreement - Pronouns—words such as ithetheyweanyone, and she—are substitutes for nouns. They play an important role in the clarity and style of a piece of writing.

Subject-verb agreement - In the present tense, verbs agree with their subjects in number (singular or plural) and in person (first, second, or third).

Sentence building - Most sentence faults and problems with punctuation are the result of a lack of understanding of how the parts of a sentence fit together.

Two-way or double nouns - Two-way nouns, also called double nouns, are nouns that can be either count or non-count depending on their meaning in context.

Apostrophes - Apostrophes signal one of two things: contraction or possession.

Commas and dashes - Generally speaking, commas help organize parts of a sentence. While they often signal the natural pauses in the flow of a sentence, they are not breath marks.

Colons and semicolons - The colon is the most abrupt piece of punctuation; it brings the sentence to a screeching stop. Semicolons exist only to join independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences). 

Ellipses and brackets - An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) is three periods in a row with spaces between each period. Use brackets to insert clarifying information into a quotation.

Assignments and disciplines

Annotated bibliography - How to research, draft, and edit an annotated bibliography in any discipline.

Compare & contrast essays - A guide to moving beyond listing similarities and differences in this common assignment prompt.

Critical reviews - Approaches to critically analyzing academic books and articles in writing.

Essay-style exams - In most respects, an exam essay is like a term paper: it should be direct, focused, organized, and well supported. You should avoid repetition, be coherent, and be concise.

Literature reviews (write.ca) - Background on and processes for researching and drafting literature reviews for graduate students.

Lab reports (write.ca) - A more detailed guide to producing high-level lab reports, step-by-step.

Case study reports (write.ca) - Guide to writing case studies for business and related courses.

History essays - Methods for researching and writing essays in history.

How to do your PSYC100 readings - A simple approach to staying on tracking with the reading requirements for PSYC100

Sociology style and writing guide (PDF, 960 KB) - Full style guide for Queen's Sociology papers, including information on citations.

Subject-Specific Resources - Lists of further resources (e.g., useful websites, departmental contacts, and tutors) for departments across Queen's.

Types and conventions of science writing - An introduction to writing across the sciences.

Erreurs les plus fréquentes en français écrit - A list of common errors in French academic writing.

Mots-liens et expressions utiles - Useful transition words and phrases for academic French.

Les transitions et comment les employer - Transitions, discursive markers, and other useful terms for discussing ideas in academic French.

 

Avoiding plot summary - Strategies to ensure insightful analysis of, and critical engagement with, texts in the humanities.

Memo writing - Approaches to writing memos for business and other applied contexts.

Reflective writing (write.ca) - A guide to producing reflective writing assignments.

SASS has an unbelievable number of resources! Every time I visit their site I find something new.

Kate F
Life Sciences, Class of '22