Research Commons helps grad students reach the finish line

Grad Pres

The Task Force on Flexible Education recognizes that flexible learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom. This is part one of a two-part series highlighting two flexible programs offered by SFU Library.

The notion that a student’s sole responsibility is degree completion is becoming obsolete. Today, many students are forced to juggle multiple life roles, and school is just one of the many priorities on their never-ending list. Finding adequate support and work-life balance may be even more difficult at the graduate student level. Flexible education within the context of that reality is about providing the resources and support students need to complete their programs despite the constraints—and it’s something the SFU Library understands well. Nicole White, Head of the Library’s Research Commons, leads a team that is providing a remarkable integrated solution: Thesis Boot Camp.

Ideal for students nearing the end of their dissertation or thesis, the 3 day intensive program is designed to propel participants toward the finish line. Each three-day Thesis Boot Camp provides a comfortable working environment, with librarians and writing facilitators available for writing and research support. Students establish individualized goals at the start of the camp and choose how best to use the three days. While some use the time to get feedback on their current thesis draft, others take the time to write, review, or further their literature searching. Many take advantage of workshops on obtaining ethics approval, copyright permissions and other topics.

Thesis Boot Camp has engaged staff members from Health and Counselling Services, the Office of the Ombudsperson, the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows, and the Graduate Student Society to educate students on topics like maintaining well-being, working effectively with a supervisor, and accessing relevant resources. White emphasizes the importance of recognizing that participants are at various stages of their writing and must be empowered to be “masters of their time.” Thus, the program is flexible and personalized as students are free to plan their itinerary for maximum benefit.

The workshops foster a peer support network that also enhances the participant experience: “[Students] mind each other’s experience and generate tips and tricks from one another.” White points out that it’s common for participants to make connections across different disciplines, stay in touch and provide mutual support beyond the sessions.

For more information:

Thesis Boot Camp:

“All in a day” workshop series: