While having writing skills (like being able to write a solid thesis or having an awesome vocabulary) will help improve your essays to a point, having access to amazing resources can be more helpful for your writing, especially because a lot of times these resources will inadvertently improve your writing skills (thanks, Oxford English Dictionary). San Jose State has a lot of great resources available for students to use, but unfortunately, not all students know about them. To help you make the best of the options that you have available, we at the Writing Center have compiled a list of resources that will help your essays in tons of ways; they’ll help you make a better use of materials, give you access to better materials, and even help you have a more productive tutoring session (which we always like)!
First, we’ll start with online resources. Your San Jose State ID number and password will get you access to tons of sites, and we’ve come up with a list of sites that are the most helpful for general writing help. These sites can be used for all types of writing, from casual memos to scientific research papers. Each site is linked to the SJSU login page, so you’ll be able to check out all of these resources with the click of a button!
This is probably my favorite resource at San Jose State University. If you ever need to define a word for a paper, this is the definitive source. The OED traces the meaning of a word over time, and this means that you can see what a word means now, what it meant 1,000 years ago, and what words are similar to it. Because you can look at the historic meanings of a word, this resource is particularly great for any paper that requires some historical context. Also, it’s totally cool.
This is a fantastic resource for any kind of research paper that you may be writing. This website allows you to store citations that you’ve found through the SJSU databases; as long as you have RefWorks open in another tab (or have just recently logged in to it), you can click on “export citation” and then select “RefWorks,” and the link to your article will be saved. RefWorks also allows you to create and organize folders of exported citations. This is especially helpful if you have research papers due in multiple classes because it allows you to separate your research. Most importantly, RefWorks will create a bibliography for you in APA or MLA! All you have to do is select the articles that you want to use and click the “create bibliography” button at the top of the page. However, you should always check the formatting of this list before you submit it, especially when it comes to punctuation and capitalization. RefWorks is great, but it’s not perfect.
This website is the Writing Center’s go-to formatting site. Almost all the tutors use it, and we all love it. This website breaks down each style into easily searchable chunks, so you can find examples for citations of many kinds of online sources, print sources, and even unusual sources such as sculptures, paintings, or interviews. If you’re struggling with formatting, you need to check out this site.
This is a great resource for students who’ve never written a research paper in college or who want to learn about the resources that will make it easier to write a research paper. This tutorial will teach you how to use the resources the library has available and make the most of your database searches, so it’s well worth the 50 minutes (give or take) that it takes to complete it.
If you aren’t sure which databases are going to be the most helpful for your research paper, check out this link. The library has organized all the available databases by department, so you can click on the department that your class is in and select one of the databases that’s the most likely to have what you’re looking for. This will save you a lot of time and wasted searches.
As a humanities major, I’ve found that Academic Search Complete is the most helpful because it allows users to select many databases across many fields. I use it for almost every paper. However, other tutors at the Writing Center prefer databases like JSTOR, so be sure to check out a variety of databases when you’re doing your searches. Databases are somewhat of a personal preference, but finding one that you like is worth your time. Once you’re familiar with your favorite database, you’ll be able to conduct your searches faster and easier.
- Writer’s Help
This is an incredible resource for any questions about grammar, formatting, or the writing process, and most students aren’t aware of it. It’s a searchable online e-book that provides helpful examples and tips. We have a physical copy of this book in the Writing Center, and we frequently use it to help students understand certain concepts.
This resource is available through CANVAS. As long as you’re in a class that uses CANVAS, you’ll have access to it. To find this resource, log into CANVAS, select any course, and then select “Writer’s Help” (it should be in the left toolbar).
Every semester, the tutors at the Writing Center create new handouts that address some of the writing errors that they see on a daily basis. These handouts cover grammar, formatting, and writing process problems, so be sure to check them out if you need writing help and you can’t make it to an appointment at the Writing Center. There are over 90 of them, so there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find the answer to at least one of your questions there.
Next, we’ll look at helpful on-campus resources. We’re going to be looking at writing-specific resources, but be sure to check out the opportunities for department-specific tutoring. Most departments have a grad-student or two on call to help out undergrads with their courses, and some departments even have dedicated rooms.
- EOP (Educational Opportunity Program)
EOP provides first-generation and economically disadvantaged students with additional help to ensure college success – and yes, they do provide tutoring. Obviously, not every student qualifies for EOP, but if you think that you might, you should check it out. You do have to apply to receive benefits like tutoring and other services, but it’s well worth it. If you’re curious about EOP, check out some of the FAQs.
The Comm Center provides students with help for all kinds of communication skills, such as public speaking, presentations, and writing, and you don’t have to be a communication major. You can make appointments online or stop by during special drop-in hours. If you struggle with any form of communication, go see them! They’re located in Hugh Gillis Hall 229, and they’re open 10:30am–4:30pm Monday-Thursday.
Peer Connections offers tutoring for undergrad students. They provide students with course-specific tutoring, and like the Comm Center, they provide both drop-in and scheduled appointments. They have two locations: one on the first floor of Clark Hall and another in the Student Services Center, room 600.
Last, but certainly not least, it’s us: the Writing Center! We offer one-on-one tutoring for undergrad and graduate-level students. We’ll help you with anything writing-related; research papers, theses, resumes, even personal letters – we’ll do it all! All our tutors have undergone rigorous training, so we’re qualified to help you on a variety of issues. We tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to make an appointment online ahead of time and bring a printout of your paper.
Now, the world is your oyster. Put those resources to use!