The Duke Reader Project offers participating students an opportunity to get feedback on a course writing project from a Duke alum or staff member who has professional experience relevant to your project. Our volunteers can help you learn to anticipate the needs and expectations of readers – an essential skill for successful writing no matter what field you pursue.
Things to Know
If your instructor enrolls your course in the Reader Project, you can sign up for the Reader Project and will be matched with a volunteer who has professional experience related to the type of writing for your course. Once you have received the matching email with your reader’s email address you need to get in touch immediately and schedule an introductory meeting. During that meeting you should introduce each other, talk about your writing project and determine whether you both want to go forward with your collaboration. Should you decide to work together, you need to discuss the course expectations and deadlines for the writing assignment. We highly recommend that you and your reader agree on a timeline for your interactions, i.e. when you will submit drafts and how fast your reader can provide you with feedback.
What do I need to tell my reader?
Explain my writing project. My reader does not know what I am expected to deliver. I need to inform my reader of all requirements and expectations for this assignment.
Due dates and deadlines. My reader does not know what due dates and deadlines my instructor has set for us. I need to tell my reader about important dates and I need to arrange specific deadlines for my live interaction with my reader.
What’s expected of you?
Be proactive. At the beginning of the semester, you should check our page for your course, sign up, and monitor your inbox for a matching message from us. We expect that you will be proactive in communicating with your reader along the way. The program coordinator will send reminders, but you are chiefly responsible for initiating the interactions with your reader, corresponding in a professional and timely manner, and sending revisions to your reader. Also, many readers enjoy hearing your reaction to their feedback. We suggest you send regular updates on the status of your draft and how the reader’s comments have helped you. You will be expected to send a final draft of your paper to the reader at the end of the semester.
Stay in touch. We know that unforeseen circumstances arise and you may have to drop out. Please show professionalism and get in contact with your reader immediately with any changes in your plans. If you have problems contacting your reader please contact us right away so we can find out what’s going on.
Inform your reader. Tell your reader about the nature of your writing task, explain the assignment, the timeline for the assignment and the kinds of feedback you would like and discuss the best way to interact. Find out if your reader has time to respond to questions you have about your work-in-progress between drafts.
Own your work. You must take ownership for all decisions related to your paper. No matter who your reader is or what they say, you should see your reader as just one source of useful feedback not the final authority. Give your reader’s comments serious consideration, but make your own decisions. Ultimately, authority for evaluating your written work rests with your instructor. If you are unsure about whether a particular comment or advice is on target for your particular paper, check with your instructor.
**Note: If you are unclear about the writing assignment, please ask your instructor for clarification. Your reader does not know what is expected of you and when. Above all, the final authority for your assignment and the course is always your instructor.
What can I expect from my reader?
My reader will review two drafts and give me substantive and detailed feedback from the perspective of an informed and engaged audience member. This feedback can take the form of annotations and comments to the document or a recorded read-aloud response.
My reader will be further available for two live interactions, one after each submission of a draft. During these conversations my reader will elaborate on the written feedback, discuss ideas how to improve my paper by drawing on the reader’s professional expertise and advice and answer questions I may have.
"My reader was a great match and very approachable. I loved working with her. It made me feel more comfortable having another pair of eyes to read my drafts without grading it. I would recommend every thesis student to participate."
"I think it is always beneficial to have another set of eyes on your paper. So definitely would recommend this to any student because it will only make your paper better. You do your paper anyway so it is not an added stress or work element."
“My reader was awesome … she had a real penchant for understanding [this type of] writing which made the entire writing process much easier and I gained confidence for writing longer papers… Loved it.”
“My reader was always willing to read over my work and give very helpful content-focused feedback. It was also great interacting with someone outside of academia, especially for a public policy paper, to see how people in the real world view it.”
“Since [my reader] works in the pharmaceutical research field he was very in tune with what actual grant proposals looked like and it was very interesting to hear what he had to say about my proposal.”