Online Writing Lab (OWL)

An image of an owl

Welcome to the OWL!

Online Writing Lab (OWL) Guidelines and Submission Form

OWL Goal

Most people benefit from getting responses to their writing. In fact, successful writers routinely seek out such feedback as part of their writing process. Our goal is to give you the kind of feedback that will help you develop and refine skills that you can carry with you beyond a given assignment or course. We want to teach you how to improve your own writing, not take over your paper and rewrite it. You can expect your OWL tutor to give you clear, specific suggestions for improving your paper. You should also expect to do some work revising your paper based on those suggestions. Be sure to leave yourself enough time for revision.

Advantages of Online Tutoring

Online tutoring has certain advantages: It can be more convenient because consulting with a tutor isn’t limited to the Writing Center’s hours and you don’t have to travel to school. In addition, it provides a written record of your tutoring session, so you can refer back to it. However, because the communication happens via email, online tutoring is also slower than in-person tutoring. It is especially important that you check your email frequently so that you can reply to tutor questions right away. Your participation in this process is essential!

How It Works

As with our walk-in Center, a tutor will focus on one or two related areas of your writing. We believe that writers learn more this way. For example, your tutoring session might focus on the thesis and organization of the paper, or on a pattern of grammar or punctuation error, but not both in the same session.

You can expect your paper to be better after a tutoring session, but you shouldn’t expect perfection because not all aspects of the paper will be addressed. The tutor will give you as much feedback as possible in the 30 minutes allotted for each submission. You may write back to the tutor with follow-up questions.

Please note, too, that your tutor may write back to you with additional questions, so make sure you check your email regularly.

You should receive an email confirmation of your request immediately. Requests received after 6 p.m. Monday-Friday will be considered received 8 a.m. the following working day. You can expect a reply within 36-48 hours Monday-Friday (except for holidays). At certain times of the semester, our response time may be longer. If we anticipate that a response will take longer than two days, we will send you an email to let you know. Our email address is should you have any questions.

OWL Submission Form Questions

You will see that the online submission form asks you several questions about your paper. These questions are designed to let us know exactly what you want to work on. Even if you don’t have an immediate concern about your writing, we can still help. Before you proceed to fill out the submission form, spend a few minutes thinking about your answer to the question “What do you want the tutor to focus on today?”

Here are some areas where we can help:
  • Coming up with an interesting topic to write about
  • Devising a thesis or outline
  • Writing an introduction or conclusion
  • Drafting paragraphs and transitions
  • Revising based on your teacher’s comments
  • Quoting, paraphrasing, and citing
  • Developing ideas
  • Working with grammar and punctuation
  • Looking for patterns of strengths and weaknesses in your writing
  • Any other concern you might have

Important: OWL tutors will address your concerns and suggest ways to improve your paper, but they will not

  • write your paper for you.
  • edit your paper (correct it for you).
  • proofread your paper (mark all errors).
  • give your paper a grade.