Dissertation Writing Camp

Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camps

Winter 2017 Writing Camp


  • January 9-13, 2017

Time: 9:00am–3:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 9:00am–1:00pm (Friday)

Location: Writing Center, 6th Fl., Helen C. White Hall

The UW–Madison Writing Center and the UW–Madison Graduate School are pleased to sponsor a Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp during the 2017 Winter intersession. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and participation is limited to twenty (20) dissertators.

The Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camps are made possible through the generous funding and support of the Mellon Foundation, the State of Wisconsin, the UW–Madison Graduate School, and the UW–Madison Writing Center.

The dissertation writing camps focus on three core components: 

  1. They provide participants with intensive, focused time to write in a supportive atmosphere amid other writers.  Those selected to participate must attend the entire camp and should plan to write for at least five hours every day.
  2. Since research shows that successful research writers talk about their work and that talk is essential for effective writing, participants have multiple opportunities to discuss their work.  Writing support is provided in the form of one-to-one conferences, in which participants can discuss any aspect of their dissertation writing process with Writing Center instructors. Participants may be expected to occasionally share their writing with other camp participants.
  3. Dissertation writing camps offer brief daily writing exercises and workshops on topics such as setting realistic goals, managing one’s time, organizing a major project, obtaining useful feedback, and staying motivated.
"Previous camp participants from across the disciplines — humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and physical sciences — and participants in similar programs at other universities report that the writing camp experience helped them accomplish their writing goals, accelerated their degree completion, and enabled them to learn strategies that would help them in future writing projects. “In academia there is a lot of expectation that you will work independently and be responsible for your own cheerleading and positive encouragement; it was so refreshing and helpful to have an extra dose of that kind of encouragement from [the Dissertation Writing Camp instructors]. I think that will stick me for a long time.”

-Dissertator from the Humanities

 “It’s easy in graduate school to feel as though you are the only one struggling, as though everyone else is so much smarter and more productive. Writing Camp showed me that I’m not alone, that there are plenty of bright, passionate students who find the dissertation process challenging and sometimes even overwhelming. Really seeing this has helped me not be so down on myself.”

-Dissertator from the Social Sciences

 “It’s very comforting knowing there is this group of amazingly helpful and highly qualified individuals with time and desire to help me with exactly what I’m struggling with. The Writing Center is really a great resource for dissertators that should be more recognized for their efforts.”

-Dissertator from the Biological Sciences

“I had no problem writing papers for classes, but once classes ended I stopped writing because nobody was firmly telling me to write, or helping me write. I have learned how to make myself accountable for writing. I also have learned that writing is part of my scientific process. I always knew that I liked writing because it made me realize new possibilities for experiments and make connections others haven’t already made, but I didn’t realize that this could make my own experiments better.”

-Dissertator from the Biological Sciences

“Dissertation Camp exceeded my expectations. I was on a short timeline to finish my dissertation writing and because of the time set aside for writing during the boot camp, I was able to finish on time.”

-Dissertator from Engineering

Participation in UW-Madison’s dissertation writing camps is limited to UW-Madison dissertators. Acceptance in the program is competitive, and each camp is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. You are eligible to apply for dissertation camp if you meet all of the following criteria:

  1. You have achieved dissertator status
  2. Your dissertation proposal has been approved
  3. You have a vision for your overall project as well as for specific chapters
  4. You have completed the research or data collection that is needed to underpin the writing you will do in camp
  5. You have drafted at least one chapter of your dissertation
  6. You have your advisor’s approval (see below)

Applicants will be selected based on their anticipated time to degree completion, the importance of dissertation camp at this stage of their project, and to ensure broad disciplinary representation.

The Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp application has two components:

  • an online application form, submitted by the applicant
  • an online advisor endorsement form, submitted by the applicant’s advisor

The application process is managed entirely through an online system, available at the UW-Madison Graduate School competitions website (gsdiv-uwmadison.fluidreview.com). To apply, click on the Sign-In/Register button on the right-hand side of the page. If you have not applied to a previous Graduate School competition, you will be required to set up an account before proceeding. Please click the ‘Create New Submission’ button on your competitions home page, and select: Mellon-Wisconsin Dissertation Writing Camp to access the application. The online application system allows you to start your application and return to edit and update it any time before the deadline. All parts of the application (including the advisor endorsement form) must be submitted by the deadline of October 14, 2016 at 12 pm (noon) in order for your application to be considered by the review committee.


In order to complete an application, you will need to provide the following information:

  1. your name, campus ID and email address;
  2. your dissertation title and a dissertation abstract (not to exceed 250 words);
  3. information on your dissertation progress and your specific writing goals for camp;
  4. indication of your motivations for attending camp and specific research/writing topics of interest to you.

Advisor Endorsement Form Once you have completed the application process, click the “Request Advisor’s Statement of Support” link under ‘Tasks’. You will be asked to provide the name and email of your advisor, who will automatically be sent an email with a link to the online system. It is important that you check in the online system whether your advisor has completed the advisor endorsement form.

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© 2017 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System