Consultants will answer questions, provide informed feedback as a reader, and make suggestions when appropriate.  Consultants are not allowed to proofread entire student papers.*  It could be unethical for us to "fix" a paper that a student will submit for grading.  However, we can help you identify some of your writing problems, help you improve your proofreading skills, and teach you to correct your own errors. You will take an active role in the review process and assume responsibility for final decisions.

Writing Center staff may not help students with exams, including take-home exams, without written permission from the professor.  Written permission must take the form of an email from the instructor to the director or consultant describing the scope and limitations of help the professor will allow.  Doctoral students taking comprehensive exams may not work with the Writing Center until the exam has been completed and passed.

*By recommendation of the International Writing Centers Association and the Conference on College Composition & Communication, and by agreement with Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Schools of Graduate & Professional Programs.


We will help you understand and avoid plagiarism, but we cannot respond to papers that contain text copied from other sources unless that text is placed inside quotation marks and cited with the page number from the original source. You must provide source citations for any information obtained from research, whether that information is quoted or paraphrased. If you are not sure how to quote, paraphrase, or cite, bring your original sources and we will help you learn.

Number of Consultations

You may have up to one hour per week of appointment time per week and two responses per paper when appointments are available.


All consultations require appointments, whether conducted face-to-face in the Writing Center or by email or telephone. With 24-hours' notice you can make your own appointment from our Web site at www.smumn.edu/tcwrite. If a convenient time is not available, you can place your name on a "wait list" and be notified automatically if a cancellation makes that time available. If you have a quick question, you are welcome to call or email without an appointment. If we have a few minutes free, we will try to answer your question; however, we will never interrupt another student's session--whether in the Writing Center or online--to respond to an unscheduled question.


Writing Center consultants' student session notes are in most cases kept confidential.  However, in a case in which an instructor detects plagiarism in a class assignment, the Writing Center director may release the consultant's session notes to the student's program director. 


Face-to-face appointment, bring the following:

  1. an electronic copy) of your paper or draft (uploaded to your appointment or on USB drive),
  2. a list of questions you want answered: What do you want to accomplish during your session?
  3. a copy of your instructor's assignment guidelines ,
  4. your APA or AMA style manual,
  5. information about your sources as explained in Disclosure section below
Email appointment, do the following:
  1. Submit an electronic copy  of your paper or draft. Upload your paper by clicking on the yellow "folder" icon at the top left of the Writing Center schedule. 
  2. In the comment section of your appointment, provide a list of questions you want answered: What do you want to accomplish from your email appointment? 
  3. If possible, provide a description of your assignment instructions or upload a copy with your paper.
  4. Our responses contain references to your style guide, so please tell us which you have: (a) Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), (b) Introduction to the APA, or (c) American Medical Association Manual of Style.
  5. Provide information about your research sources as explained in below.

Disclosure of Outside Sources

  1. If your paper requires outside sources, you must provide retrieval information for each source (author, date of publication, title, publisher information or URL). 
  2. You must give an APA citation (author date) in your paper wherever you include information from an outside source.  The Writing Center consultant will help you with APA citation style .
  3. If you use phrases directly quoted from an outside source, you must place quotation marks around the quoted words.  Writing Center consultants, must be able to distinguish text that you composed from text that was composed by another author. 
  4. Writing Center consultants may decline to help you with a research paper for which retrievable sources have not been identified.  If you need more information about providing sources, call or email the Writing Center before your appointment so that a Writing Center consultant can provide you with additional explanation. 

Making Appointments

All consultations services—whether by e-mail, by phone, or in the Writing Center—require appointments.
With at least 24-hour notice, you can now make your own appointments from our website. This new procedure means that you can make your appointments from our site at any time on any date, even outside our work hours.
To make an appointment for a consultation in person, by phone, or by email, or to submit a paper by email,

  1. Go to the Writing Center website at www.smumn.edu/tcwrite (or link to the Writing Center from your Blackboard course page).
  2. Click on "Make an Appointment." This will take you to our calendar appointment system.

The first time you use the automated appointment procedure, you will be asked to complete a short registration before logging in. After that, you will log in with the password you created and with your Saint Mary's email address. Note that our login accepts only Saint Mary's email.