What is Writing in the Disciplines (WID)?

WID grew out of the recognition that while some aspects of academic writing are common across academic fields (e.g., that claims should be appropriately supported and sources properly cited), there are major differences as well.  Because academic writing is not one thing, it cannot be taught generically.So if our students are to become better writers, and if they are to learn how to better employ writing as a learning tool, they will need to be instructed from within particular disciplines.

The primary aim of the Writing in the Disciplines program is to support our faculty in all aspects of their work with student writing, from consulting on assignment design or developing a new W-coded course to offering workshops on giving feedback and grading.

For information related to applying for a 'W' curricular code, click here.

For guidance on various aspects of student writing, see the sidebar on the left.

For current WID projects and faculty opportunities, see the sidebar to the right.

Goals of Duke's WID Courses

While a WID course should help students become more proficient writers in a general sense, it should also help them understand how writing works in the discipline--what writing does. This might include helping students understand the purpose, mechanics and conventions of a particular form (e.g., the scientific research report, the history review, or the business case study), what scholars in the field consider legitimate evidence (e.g., government documents, literary quotations, or geologic core samples), or how scholars select or create problems to write about.

To set up an individual consultation or a group workshop, or for general guidance in helping students with their writing, contact Cary Moskovitz at

The Duke Reader Project

Students working on a class writing assignment are paired with a Duke employee or alum who has professional expertise relevant to the writing project. This "reader" gives the student feedback on drafts of the paper from the perspective of someone in the field. Click here

WID Curriculum Development Grants

The Writing in the Disciplines program offers two-year departmental curriculum development grants to one department each year. These grants are intended to support the department in building student writing into the curriculum in an integrated way.  

Almost every department includes among the learning objectives for its majors helping students develop their writing skills and learn to use writing as a tool for thinking in the discipline. Goals for student writing are typically included in departmental assessment plans required for accreditation as well. Yet there is often little coordination in the teaching of these skills across courses, so instructors of one course have little idea what students have learned about writing in the field in other courses.   Also, many faculty avoid giving writing assignments because they are worried about the additional labor required to teach a writing-intensive course.  

A curricular approach to writing instruction in the major makes it possible for teachers of  one course to help students build on what they learned in another. And it allows for a wider range of coordinated opportunities to help students develop as writers: some courses might assign major writing projects while others might only assign one or two small assignments that address particular writing issues that make sense in that course and feed into another.

 WID Curriculum Development Grants provide up to $10,000 per team in summer salary or research funds, along with instructional development support for the team for two years. Teams must include three or more faculty and/or instructional staff who teach or oversee regularly taught courses that are integral to the major.