Comprehensive Writing Assistance

I offer comprehensive writing assistance for your research group, no matter the subject area. I'm based in Pittsburgh, and can work with people anywhere.

I assist students and post-docs through the planning, drafting, and editing stages of their discrete writing projects:

  • Articles,
  • Dissertation proposals,
  • Preliminary exams,
  • Conference submissions,
  • etc.

I also help PIs upskill their own writing and communication:

  • Grant applications
  • Teaching consultation
  • Executive coaching
  • Tenure packet

With my services, your group can publish more, your students can get expert training in scientific writing, and you can have more capacity as a professor to meet the many demands put on you.

My Approach: Multi-Layered Support

My approach is to offer multifaceted support services that meet people emotionally, procedurally, and intellectually. I’ve developed these services through 10+ years of helping students at CMU, Princeton, as well as my experience as a writing coach.

To see these layers of support in action, let's take the case of Sadras first first-author research article. Sadra is a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, Electrical and Computer Engineering department in Nathan Youngblood’s photonics research group. I worked with Sadra in 2023 using the following set of supports. 

Research articles are textually challenging, and they're a high-pressure culmination of years of the student's focused effort. But the actual writing process and structure of articles is rarely taught. So for students, my outcomes include improved morale, skill and confidence. For you as the PI, my services help the student deliver high-quality, on-time drafts to you, which lower your rewriting burden.

Holistic Start-Up Process

When data collection for a paper is almost complete, the drafting process can productively begin. This is where I typically come in, starting with a reflective layer of support that informs our work.

Individual Start-Up. In my first meeting with a student, I use a custom get-to-know-you questionnaire. Together, we set a personal, holistic tone for working together: What are your personal and professional goals? What are your challenges? What is your writing background?

Project Start-Up. We also begin to talk through the paper's intellectual set-up and high-level set of findings. 

Group Start-Up. If this project is the first for me to work on in a research group, I set up a similar self-reflection meeting with you as the PI to learn about your approach to mentorship and your group's research agenda.

Weekly one-on-ones

I provide weekly "By Your Side" support for the duration of drafting the paper. 

In our one-on-one meetings, we review the student's recent progress, plan their next steps, and break down challenging tasks. By default, we meet by Zoom for 1 hr/wk. If the writer is in Pittsburgh like I am, we can also meet in person.

Meetings are customized to the needs and experience level of the person writing. In Sadra's case, selections from each one-one-one session include:

  • Week 1. How and why to track your time spent on this project
  • Week 2. How to plan the Results subsections
  • Week 3. Discovering what are the set pieces of the Discussion/Conclusion section
  • Week 4. How to decode the Intro of a paper
  • Week 5. How to revise the design of your Figures
  • Week 6. How to write a Figure caption
  • Week 7. How to revise prose within a Results subsection
  • Week 8. Preparing to draft the Intro
  • Week 9. How to revise the Intro to conform to scientific norms
  • Week 10. How to plan additional revisions, especially for the writing opportunity of the stakes

Sadra made quick progress.

I usually estimate that students need 12 weeks of support to complete a draft of their research article. 

Shared Planning Session

A shared planning session is a layer of support that I've handcrafted to increase collaboration. When someone is working on an article, we schedule it early on. You, the student, and I all get in the same room together. This 90 minute Facilitated Discussion on Finding the Research Story establishes the writing building blocks for the article, so that we're all on the same page for the draft moving forward.

My role in the discussion is to facilitate the planning and make different options explicit, so I use four-part framework for research writing that I developed. We also draw on custom annotations that I make beforehand to a paper from your discipline in the target journal for this project. 

Asynchronous Review of Completed Draft

After the student has fully drafted their paper, I act as the kind "Reviewer 1", giving thoughtful and comprehensive feedback on the article as a whole, and pointing to areas of final refinement. I deliver:

  • A detailed response letter with areas for improvement
  • Marginal notes in the text
  • A follow-up call with the student to work through my suggestions in more depth

This service especially synthesizes my experience quickly navigating a complex paper, giving insightful and actionable feedback, and maintaining an encouraging attitude so the student can move forward.

Handoff, Submission, and Beyond

Once the paper has been drafted and revised, I typically step back. The paper goes through a few more steps:

  • The student implements any revisions remaining from the Reviewer 1 service
  • The PI makes further edits
  • The paper is submitted!

In Sadra's case, we worked together throughout the summer in 2023. That fall, he and Nathan refined and submitted the paper to Optica. It received favorable reviews. They revised it further, and the paper was accepted for publication in early 2024. That's one more down. Congratulations, Nathan and Sadra! 


For weekly "By Your Side" meetings, I charge $120/hr. A shared planning meeting ("Facilitated Discussion") between you, me, and the student is $400. The "Reviewer 1" asynchronous review of the whole paper is $300. There are also one-time charges for starting up with a group ($150), starting up with a new person in that group ($150), and starting up with a new project ($150), which cover my time to learn about the contextual aspects of the group, person, and project.

Overall, my goal is for a complete paper drafting project to come in under $3,000, making it less than the typical APC to make a paper open-access.

Adapting to Your Group's Needs

Each research project and researcher is unique. To find a productive plan for your group, I adapt my multi-layered assistance based on the specifics of each project. Common points of adaptation include:

  • For a review article, independent dissertation chapter, conference submission - on these related genres, our plan is very similar to what's needed for an Article, sometimes removing the Facilitated Discussion.
  • For postdocs, MA students, sometimes even PI as writer - For more experienced writers, we typically require fewer one-on-one sessions and/or can reasonably shoot for higher tier journals. For less experienced writers, we typically require more one-on-one sessions, and it's especially important to have a shared session to coordinate.
  • For people early in the process or far along - When there is still significant experimental work needed, I can help coordinate and align what needs to be done, and help in the accountability process. If there's already a full draft completed, I still need to start up with people, but we can sometimes omit a Facilitated Discussion.
  • Budget - If price is a barrier, I can meet with a student for only 30 min per session instead of 1 hr. Alternatively, when there is a situation that needs a lot of coaching, I will meet with someone 2x/wk. We generally negotiate what would be useful for each particular project.

Services with PI

In addition to my primary work helping students with their papers, I also have experience assisting researchers with other writing/communication challenges. I make these services available for groups that I have an established relationship with. Prices vary.

  • Teaching Consultation - Upgrading your teaching leads to stronger course evaluations, better student learning, and more satisfaction from your work. With planning and forethought, you can dramatically improve what you bring to your teaching. 
  • Grant Writing - Provide financially for your group by submitting stronger grant applications, and plan your research trajectory via what you propose. 
  • Executive Coaching - Make your limited bandwidth go further.
  • Tenure Packet - Confidently take the next step in your career.
  • Job Applications (academic and industry) - Put your best foot forward in your resume, CV, cover letter, and associated materials.
  • Copyediting - To make sure the published version of your article is clean, I follow the recent 6th edition of the CSE style guide.

I build new services as needed. Once we begin working together, we can see what you'd like support on.

Process To Start Up

A win-win for PIs and students

Case study - Katherine Hornbostel’s materials science research group at the University of Pittsburgh.

Katherine’s PI perspective on coaching

“Will’s value-add is that he’s able to offload some of the writing mentoring, so I can focus on the technical things: managing research funding, getting results, etc. I’d highly recommend him to any faculty who are in this boat.”


Mahpara’s student perspective on coaching

“Writing coaching has provided me with much-needed guidance in organizing my thoughts and structuring my thesis proposal document. Will helped me in flushing out detailed outlines before I began to write each chapter/section and also helped me to revise the chapters for any major errors once I completed drafting them.”

-Mahpara, PhD student in Katherine's group

Good for PIs at all stages