17 Resources for Graduate Programs

Naomi Salmon

Often, graduate students learn about their field’s expectations through informal networks of colleagues. A Pressbook could provide an organized set of department-specific resources intended to help graduate students understand disciplinary conventions, access field-specific resources, or navigate the job market. [1]

The following list includes some of the materials that may be useful to include in a graduate student resource guide.

Field-Specific Knowledge

Many departments are composed of and connected to multiple sub-disciplines that each have their own institutional knowledge. Graduate students and professors interested in supporting entering students and attracting future applicants might find it useful to provide a centralized resource for succeeding within a sub-discipline.

  • Overview of key journals
  • Guidelines for IRB approval
  • Conference info and characteristics
    • Ex. which conferences have a reputation for being particularly welcoming to graduate students?
  • Specific research fellowships
    • Do any major journals offer research support or paper prizes within a particular subfield? When are the deadlines for these applications?


Prelims Logistics

  • Timelines: When should examinees contact potential committee members?
  • An overview of the range of note-taking templates and study strategies that past graduate students have found productive


Department Funding

  • Links to travel support funding rules and required forms


  • Examples of successful conference abstracts in the field
  • Information about presentation preparation:
    • If your field has a convention of reading papers aloud at conferences, you might provide common wisdom about how many pages of writing to prepare for a 15-minute presentation or provide links to this words-to-minutes speech calculator.
    • Are there conventions about using images in presentations in your field? How should images be described or credited during a presentation?


  • Useful writing guides relevant to your field– (for example, Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks)
  • Links to UW-Madison resources– (for example, the Writing Center’s list of publication workshops for graduate students or the English department’s Proofreaders and Editors list)
  • Advice or archived department presentations detailing strategies for addressing “Revise and Resubmit” feedback

Dissertation Resource Guide

Proposal Conference

  • How to set up a dissertation proposal defense conference:
    • For example, who should students contact to schedule a conference room?

Grant Applications

  • Which institutions are most likely to provide funding for research travel or writing support?

Writing Resources

  • A list of recommended guides to writing dissertation projects in your field. For example:
    • Eric Hayot’s Elements of Academic Style: Writing for the Humanities (2014)
    • Irene L. Clark’s Writing the Successful Thesis and Dissertation: Entering the Conversation (2006)
    • Joan Bolker’s Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (1998)

Dissertation Defense Conference

  • What should candidates bring to the meeting? How early should committee members receive copies of the finished product?


  • Are there any special considerations for depositing that are particularly relevant in your field?

Job Market Support

  • Sample job materials, dissertation and project proposals, and grant applications (password-protected, if desired)
  • Application timelines
  • Field-specific advice from experienced applicants
  • A direct link to department BOX folder containing department letterhead file


OER Sourcebook Hypothes.is Discussion

  • What other resources might departments consider including in a guide for graduate students?


  1. Graduate students in the UW-Madison English Department are in the process of piloting a crowd-sourced guide of this type. At the end of this pilot project, we will update this page with more information about lessons learned in this process.


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Resources for Graduate Programs Copyright © by Naomi Salmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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