Writing Resources

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Research and Academic Writing (Skills and Strategies)


Media Resources

  • 5 Tips to Improve Your Writing. A short video on some of the dos and don'ts in writing.
  • How to Improve My Writing Skills. This video helps the writer understand what it means to revise their paper or rethink what it is they are writing. It also gives the writer tips on what to ask a professor or writing constultant when they are reading through a draft.


  • Explorations of Style: A Blog About Academic Writing. This site's author is, Professor Rachael Cayley, from the University of Toronto where she works in the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication. Her blog offers readers tips and strategies in tackling the challenges of academic writing through discussion. She has the site organized by themes: Drafting, R. evision, Audience, Identity, Writing Challenges, Mechanics, Productivity, Graduate Writing, Blogging and Social Media, and Resources.
  • Paraphrase and Sumnmary. This website will help the writer know when to paraphrase and when to summarize. This will reduce the clutter of direct quotes and the number of citations throughout the paper.
  • Successful vs. unsuccessful paraphrases. This site will clarify what is a good paraphrase (using your own words to restate someone else's ideas) and what is not a good paraphrase, which can be taken as plagiarism.
  • Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism. This webpage helps the writer understand what is considered common knowledge, what a good paraphrase would be, and what are high-risk situations that they should be avoiding. Understanding these aspects will help the writer avoid plagiarism.

Resources for English Language Learners


Media Resources


  • 50 Essential Resources for ESL Students. This website offers a variety of resources to help the non-native English speaking student navigate academic writing. It provides links for Grammar and Usage, Spelling and Pronunciation, and Vocabulary and Writing. As well as links for Quizzes and Worksheets, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels to enhance your learning.
  • Duolingo is a free online language-learning platform that includes a language-learning website and app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. It offers exercises at different levels to enforce the learning of a variety of languages. Login with your native tongue and select the language you would like to learn or need help in.
  • English Solutions for Engineering and Sciences Research Writing. This free e-book, by Adam Turner at Hanyang University in Korea, is packed with writing tips for not just engineers but grad students in all disciplines. Turner has chapters on formal email, how Google and Adobe Acrobat Reader can help you locate discipline-specific grammar and word choice, sentence structure basics, paragraph structure, and structure and grammar of an (engineering) research article.
  • Literature Review. Part of a larger website for the University of Hong Kong undergraduates in the Arts and Social Sciences, this section has interesting material on writing literature reviews, citation practices (and sentence structures for citing), and examples of model literature reviews with commentaries on the language. Note that this site has not been updated since 2001.
  • Writing up research: The Guidebook. Written for graduate students at the Asian Institute of Technology, this website has information on writing an abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion, along with discussions of language issues such as verb tense and voice in the theses and dissertations.

Citing Your Sources



Citation Managers

Dictionaries, Thesauri, Grammar Usage, and Other Resources


Media Sources


Visual Dictionaries

Dictionaries with Extra Features

These websites have dictionaries and extra features that are useful for building your vocabulary.

  • Wordnik. This site provides not only definitions, pronunciations, synonyms/antonyms, and etymologies, but also, to name a few features, real-time example sentences from Twitter, words that are used in the same context (e.g., searching for "corny" will retrieve "overblown" and "country-western" (!), and Flikr photos tagged with the word - so you can actually see what people find corny.)
  • WordNet. Though not so user friendly, this site will provide not only definitions, synonyms, and antonyms but also a bunch of other categories - such as hyponyms (related words that are more specific than your search term: e.g., govenor is a hyponym of politician), derived forms, and coordinate terms (e.g., a politician is a leader engaged in civil administration, and a captain is someone who leads a group).
  • Lexical FreeNet. This site has similar functions as WordNet, though less information is provided.

Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

For idioms ("kick the bucket") and phrasal verbs (e.g., "to look after" someone), use the following free resources.

Languages Other Than English

  • WordReference. This has great bilingual dictionaries from many European and Asian languages, as well as Arabic, Czech, and Russian. The dictionaries include multiple synonyms, words used in sentences, and compound forms.


  • Ask About English. Hosted by the BBC's Learning English site, this feature provides detailed answers to questions about such topics as adjectives and adverbs, confusing words and expressions, conjunctions and clauses, idioms and phrasal verbs, modals and conditionals, reported speech, and punctuation.
  • Grammar and Mechanics. This site was developed by the Online Writing Lab at Purdue, this page has links to information on topics such as relative pronouns, subject/verb agreement, and articles.

There are online programs that can identify grammar errors. None of them catch everything, and they are no replacement for feedback from an ESL teacher, so use them at your own risk!

  • Check my Words Toolbar. This can be installed for free on PCs with Microsoft Word and running the Grammar Checker will highlight potential common errors. It shows you how words combine in English, explains most of the common errors made by learners of English, and much more.
  • Grammarly. This is an online website that can help a writer with common grammar mistakes. It has a free component as well as a version that can be purchased monthly, bi-annually, or annually. It helps you to eliminate errors (punctuation, spelling, and grammatical) and enhance clarity and meaning (vocabulary usage and sentence structure) wherever you are writing; Word, Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  • SpellCheckPlus. This site checks text for spelling and grammatical errors. The free version checks only 250 words and contains ads. A one-year subscription without ads and no limit on text length, along with other features, runs around $13.

Word Choice

Would you say “to a large extent” or “to a big extent”? “Large” and “big” are synonyms, but native speakers of English would say “large extent,” never “big extent.” In all languages, words like “large” and “extent” stick together, or “collocate” with one another.

You have probably used Google to answer questions like these—for example, you could Google “large extent” and “big extent” and see which phrase gets more hits. But there are websites much more powerful than Google that can help you select the more common combination in English. We’ll focus on the best of these sites:

Apps for Productivity and Focus

These websites and apps are designed to help you stay on track, focus on the task at hand, and give you the freedom of getting your writing done as opposed to web-surfing.

Special thanks to UCLA's Graduate Writing Center for originally compiling many of the resources and links found on this page.