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Writing, Reading, and Researching at PSU: A Survival Guide for Students
Hildy Miller, English Department

Welcome to PSU! Unlike many schools that require students to take specific writing courses, PSU thinks it's up to you to decide what you need in order to succeed as writers, readers, and researchers. This guide should help you find and choose the resources you need.

Do you want to sign up for a 4-credit course for writing, reading, and researching practice? Often the time and money you invest in a course pays off later in the knowledge you gain. Consider the following composition courses (complete course descriptions can be found in the regular courses or specialized courses sections):

  • Ling 115 Writing for Non-Native Residents. A course designed for writers whose first language is not English to develop their skills and confidence in writing for college.
  • WR 115 Introduction to College Writing. For all freshmen students who just plain feel unprepared for college writing, this course can help you build confidence and practice writing, reading, and researching strategies.
  • WR 121 College Writing. An all-purpose writing course for all freshmen and sophomores who want to learn rhetorical strategies, understand textual conventions, and practice critical thinking.
  • WR 210 Grammar Refresher. A course designed to refresh one's knowledge of parts of speech, sentence construction, and punctuation and to assist one in learning to self-edit and to edit peer work.
  • WR 222 Writing Research Papers. An in-depth focus on how to conduct academic research using a topic of your choice. From how to use the library to how to document sources - it's all here.
  • WR 323 Writing as Critical Inquiry. An all-purpose writing course for all juniors and seniors who want to tackle advanced issues in reading, writing, and researching in the university.
  • WR 300 Writing in the Disciplines. Learn the conventions of writing in your major by researching it yourself. For all juniors and seniors who want to understand their field's writing or to prepare for graduate school.


No time for a writing course? Try a 2-credit mini-course if you want to brush up on specific writing, reading, and research skills or want a supportive workshop where you can bring in your work form other courses

  • WR 210 Grammar Refresher (2)

    Brush up your grammar skills. Work on your own nagging problems and learn ways to put grammar all together.


Need help with the writing, reading, or research for a particular paper or project? Tutoring is available, but remember, it's for when you're stuck and need help with a specific piece of writing. If you find yourself going to the Writing Center often, sign up for a course instead. Consider the following resources for tutoring:

  • The Writing Center. Located in Cramer Hall, 188F, (503) 725.3570. For any currently enrolled student who needs help such as sorting out particular language usage issues, understanding the academic conventions of particular assignments, or understanding how plagiarism differs from citing sources, the Writing Center can schedule and meet with you for and individual half-hour session.


Got the reading and writing down, but baffled by how to use the library and conduct research? Take a course (WR 222 Writing Research Papers) or by all means visit the PSU Library Research Survival Website.


Still not sure which course or tutorial option is right for you? Meet with an advisor, instructor, or writing specialist. Be sure to take samples of your writing with you.

  • Advisors and Instructors: If you are new to campus or have not declared your major you should meet with an adviser in the Undergraduate Advising and Support Center (402 USB, 503.725-4005).


Very Cool and Useful Writing Resources


Recommended Handbook for Writers and a Guide to Conducting Research


Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It


Non-Native/ English as a Second Language Speakers and Writers


For Writers with Learning Disabilities


Guides to Writing in the Disciplines

Order any of these books from the PSU Bookstore or directly from the publisher.

  • Addison-Wesley Company Short Guide Series
    A Short Guide to Writing About Art, Sylvan Barnet
    A Short Guide to Writing About Biology, Jan Pechenik
    A Short Guide to Writing About Chemistry, Herbert Beal & John Trimbur
    A Short Guide to Writing About Film, Timothy Corrigan
    A Short Guide to Writing About History, Richard Marius
    A Short Guide to Writing About Literature, Sylvan Barnet
    A Short Guide to Writing About Art, Sylvan Barnet
    A Short Guide to Writing About Music, Bellman
    A Short Guide to Writing About Science, David Porush
    A Short Guide to Writing About Social Science , Lee J. Cuba
  • Prentice-Hall Publishing
    The Political Science Student Writer's Manual, Gregory Scott & Stephen Garrison
    Writing About the Humanities, Robert DiYanni
    Writing and Thinking in the Social Sciences, Sharon Friedman
    The History Student Writer's Manual, Mark Hellstern, et. al.
    The Sociology Student Writer's Manual, William Johnson, et. al.
  • Allyn and Bacon Publishing
    How to Write Psychology Papers, Les Parrott III
    Writing for Psychology, Christopher Thaiss & James Sanford
    Writing for Law Enforcement, Christopher Thaiss & John Hess
    Writing About Theatre, Christopher Thaiss & Rick Davis
    Researching and Writing in the Humanities, Christine Hult
    Researching and Writing in the Social Sciences, Christine Hult
    Researching and Writing in the Sciences and Technology, Christine Hult


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