I had to make many decisions in my final year of graduate school, but my best decision was to ask Dr. Sara Saylor to coach me in writing my dissertation. In the spring 2019 semester, we met each week for a consultation, and Sara reviewed multiple drafts of each dissertation chapter – and with each interaction I learned not only to believe in my writing, but also to believe in my thinking and my work. Sara became my thinking partner. She knew my project almost as well as I did. First, she helped me clarify my thinking through our conversations, and then she helped me express my ideas with even more clarity in my writing. I learned so much from Sara about how to execute strong and effective writing. I will always be grateful to Sara for her keen insight as a scholar and writing coach.
-Saba Khan Vlach, PhD
Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture
University of Iowa
Sara's support was critical in helping me complete my dissertation. When I began working with Sara, I lacked the focus and confidence that I needed to convey my research findings and subsequently explain their significance. I engaged Sara initially for editing, but I quickly realized her experience in academic writing would help add tremendous clarity to my writing and help me navigate through all of the distracting thoughts/ideas that can stifle your progress. I received feedback from my committee that my writing was strong and that my drafts were "clean" thanks to Sara's keen eye for detail. Sara also helped me prepare for my dissertation defense. She was very familiar with the types of questions that I would likely be asked, and she made me feel much more prepared for the process. I would highly recommend Sara, and I look forward to working with her again.
-Tracie Ellis, PhD, STEM Education
The University of Texas at Austin
I consulted Sara for an NSF (National Science Foundation) research grant proposal and an academic article, and I have joined her in structured dissertation writing meetings. In our writing consultations, Sara would mindfully facilitate me to develop my own ideas and put them on to paper. She recommended resources for academic writing and helped me set up goals in the early stages of proposal writing. The proposal received research funding from the NSF. In our consultation for a journal article, Sara would listen carefully and use questions to help me with accuracy in expressing my ideas and formulating my arguments. Although our disciplinary backgrounds differed, her advice and questions forced to me to explain my findings and theories in a clear and accessible way. Sara pushed me to more fully articulate my arguments and to identify weaknesses as I told “the story” of my paper. Sara also diligently set up and maintained a space (in a lovely coffee shop) for people to produce new writing for their academic projects. Several meetings in the beginning stage of my dissertation writing process helped me develop the habit of setting up daily achievable goals and protecting my writing time. I would recommend writers to work with Sara on a writing project and join the spaces she runs for writers.
-Ruijie Peng, PhD Candidate, Sociology
I am thankful for all the guidance and wisdom Sara shared with me, and for her insightful edits. I was able to participate in my hooding ceremony satisfied with the work I had done, feeling I had put forth a dissertation that could be considered complete and a true contribution even with all its imperfections. Sara saved me hours and weeks and even months of agonizing over small details by drawing attention to what needed the most focus and thought. I was afraid that working with an editor--especially from another discipline--would mean losing my voice and taking the easy way out. But instead, Sara nudged me to the heart of some of my most tangled fears by gently offering simple (but spot-on) writing suggestions. Sara is a true dissertation doula, and I wish that every writer had the opportunity to get support like this.
-Liz D., PhD, Anthropology
I have always struggled with writing, and after transitioning to a role where much more writing is asked of me, I needed to build confidence, process, and competence. Working with Sara is helping with all of these. Sara's coaching has been helpful in a number of ways. Her ability to help me organize my thinking and to push through certain mental blocks has proved invaluable. She has also helped me understand writing as a tool and a process that makes my own thinking and work better. Finally, her compassionate nature gives space for my own failings and the reality that writing is hard. She helps me through my frustrations with understanding and tools. I am proud of the work I've accomplished with her help, in particular writing my first journal paper, and I'm surprised at how far I've come in less than a year.
-Sarah Bird, Research Engineer, Mozilla
As a working professional with 15+ years away from the academic world, writing a statement of purpose and providing an academic writing sample sounded daunting! After one visit with Sara, I felt at ease and excited about the process. She guided me through the brainstorming process, provided structure to begin writing, and broke down large tasks into manageable steps. Sara not only made the process less overwhelming but also made me feel more confident and excited about writing. I would recommend her to anyone looking for guidance with professional or personal writing goals.
Working with Sara is like having an anchor. Getting writing done on projects is so critical, but figuring out the time to do it, and creating a supportive system in which it can happen, sometimes feels nearly impossible. Sara's calm presence and keen insights ground the working process delightfully in the here and now and create a needed space to return to again and again.
-Lynn Osgood, Executive Director, Civic Arts
Sara edited chapters of my dissertation and a journal article from my doctoral research. I was impressed by the quality of her editing work. She is a reliable and proficient writer who improved the quality of my work. I highly recommend Sara not only because she is a responsible professional but also because she understands the significance of our work as academics.
-Ariadna Reyes, PhD
Lecturer in Sustainable Planning
University of Texas at Austin
Sara's help was crucial for me in the final stages of my PhD process. She helped me with substantial editing and understood right away what my challenges were and how to help me best! I felt Sara respected my voice when polishing my work. Her kindness and care made working with her a great experience. Sara also helped me practice for my PhD defense by conducting a mock viva--a very useful way of getting ready. Our work relationship has continued, and when I need any editing, I always turn to Sara!
-Veronika Talviste, PhD
I highly recommend Sara as a writing coach. She is amazing at what she does. I've worked with Sara many times, and each time I felt like my writing improved. Not only did her deep focus and strong intellect help me to organize my thoughts, but her kindness and patience helped soothe much of the anxiety I was experiencing in the midst of trying to finish my dissertation. With her help, I was able to finish my dissertation on time and publish my first article. In addition, her previous experience as a dedicated university Graduate Writing Coordinator has given her a wealth of knowledge and sources that will support any writing issue you might have.
-Caitlin M., PhD
Sara edited my dissertation. She was incredible. She identified the areas where I needed to make changes or add clarifications, and her edits were so clear that I could see what she had changed and what she pointed out for me to change with ease. She was available to discuss my project when I needed a consultation, and she was so thorough in her edits that she sent me a document outlining what my argument was so that I knew that it was coherent, since someone who was not a specialist in my field could articulate back to me what I was arguing in my dissertation. She helped me to realize that one of the sub-chapters didn’t make much sense in terms of the larger argument I was making and encouraged me to rewrite it, and our brainstorming session was wonderful. Our conversation actually helped me to realize that the section was superfluous for my dissertation and would be better as an article. I would recommend Sara in a heartbeat to other writers and I will definitely be reaching out to her again when I have some more writing to work on. Thank you so much, Sara!
-Kaitlin S., PhD
I can't recommend Sara enough as a writing coach and editor. She helped me come up with a writing schedule for my dissertation and stick to it. She is very generous with her time and gives thoughtful feedback on drafts. If you are stuck on a chapter or have writer's block, Sara is a great resource for talking things through and getting feedback. I have also attended writing retreats that she organized and found them to be particularly generative.
-Madeline B., PhD
I worked with Sara as a writing coach while I was working on my dissertation. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I got out of walking through my writing with Sara. Each time I had a consultation, I left with both 1) a plan for revisions to vastly improve the section we reviewed, and 2) tips for making the first draft of my next section of writing much better from the get-go. I am now much better at creating a first draft due to my appointments with Sara. For example, I am better at creating transition sentences to help the flow of my writing from one paragraph to the next. Further, I am better at spotting repetitive statements and words in my writing that may be distracting to readers. Prior to my consultations, I was vaguely aware of these and other techniques Sara has taught me, but sitting down with Sara and going through my writing together really ingrained them. Now when I sit down to write, it's as if I have Sara whispering over my shoulder. In addition to training me in techniques to improve my writing, she also introduced me to great writing resources that I continue to use on my own today! I highly recommend working with Sara if you would like to improve any piece of writing you are working on, or your writing habits and techniques in general.
-Emily H., PhD
Sara has helped increase my confidence to write academically. I have long thought of myself as not a great writer. I love to think and write, but the fear of editing my work has always stopped me from being more productive with my writing. After my experience with Sara, I have seen that having outside support gives me the freedom to write in the way I need to and then get the support I need before I submit my paper. I feel very proud of the paper I turned in, and there is no way the quality would be as good without Sara's excellent editorial work.
-Ed C., PhD Candidate
Sara delivered exceptional help. She made helpful suggestions, asked helpful questions, and helped make my dissertation introduction much clearer. More than that, she was encouraging, emboldening, giving me more confidence about the value of certain claims I was underplaying. Sara is very smart, professional, helpful, generous, and kind.
-Addison S., PhD
Sara was very quick to respond to my request to edit my dissertation. Within a few hours of contacting Sara, I had met with her for a video chat and hired her for the job. She knew I needed the document reviewed quickly and she delivered! She reviewed my 100+ page dissertation within a week. Not only did she make the corrections, she even took the time to create a list of every change she made and the changes that I needed to make myself. According to my University, my dissertation had so many errors that a full pre-publication review was not completed and my manuscript was sent back to me. After Sara got finished with my manuscript, I resubmitted my dissertation to the University, and it was approved within a week. Without Sara's help, I have no idea how long it would have taken me to get through the publication process at my University!
-Kelly O., EdD
Sara proofread my entire dissertation, and she was phenomenal! She paid close attention to my grammar, syntax, argument, and even to the use of punctuation in my bibliography. I have worked with her a couple of more times since then, and she has always been responsive, generous, and meticulous. I would call her the Eagle Eye!
-Yuki T., PhD
It has been a great pleasure working with Sara. Sara responds fast! Her comments are always very thoughtful and concise. She shows genuine interest in my work and never imposes her own ideas onto my writing. As a non-native English speaker, I have learned valuable lessons on language and style from Sara's meticulous editing.
-Yanbing T., PhD, Asian Studies
This course should be mandatory for all grad students. It really provides students with the info and support they need to enter a scholarly conversation. Sara is a brilliant scholar and often says the most astute and helpful things to writers from a variety of disciplines. The questions that she posed about my project are helping me to reframe it entirely (in terms of intervention). Sara is a very effective teacher and communicator, and a lot of what she said stuck with me. She also has a great idea of the professional and personal struggles that dissertation writers face… Thank you for a great course and facilitating lots of dissertation progress!!!
-Student Evaluation, Dissertation Boot Camp