Tutors will respond to your submission within 48 hours, as a rule. If you send us
a paper on Friday afternoon, we can't retrieve it until Monday morning, and you may
not hear from us until Tuesday, depending on how busy we are. Also, mid-term and
end-of-the-semester are busy times. We may not be able to respond to your submission
so quickly then. But otherwise, we usually are able to respond the same day we receive
The Writing Lab's hours are Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Friday 9:00 AM –
2:00 PM, and Sunday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM. If you send us a paper on Friday afternoon,
we can't retrieve it until Monday morning, and you may not hear from us until Tuesday,
depending on how busy we are.
As a rule of thumb, we ask that you limit online submissions to about 2000 words.
If your draft is lengthy and complex, you should come to the Writing Lab for a face-to-face
conference. Longer papers can be handled online, but turn around time will be longer,
and some issues may still require face-to-face assistance.
Graduate Students: For assistance with a major paper (e.g., a master's thesis), please
call us at 573-651-2159 and set up an appointment for a face-to-face conference.
Our submission process has changed. We are now through Moodle!
The Online Writing Lab is now on Moodle! If you are not already enrolled, the process
is simple. Here are the two most common ways to find the OWL on Moodle:
- From learning.semo.edu: Under “All Courses” choose “Center for Writing Excellence.”
Then under “Online Writing Lab,” click “enroll me.”
- From our website submission page (http://www.semo.edu/writing/online_submit.htm):
Under “Online Writing Lab,” click “enroll me.”
Please contact us at (573) 651-2460 if you have any questions.
Since the submission process no longer offers a place to put comments to the tutor
telling him or her what questions and concerns you have about your draft, please put
them directly on the paper itself. Our tutors need those comments in order to properly
assess the paper. The checklist below may help you determine what you could write
to the tutor.
You will receive a response to your draft within 48 hours, usually sooner, barring
some unforeseen computer glitch. The Writing Lab personnel do not work on online
submissions in the evenings or on weekends so a response will be delayed if you send
a draft late on Friday or during the weekend. Please allow yourself adequate time
to revise after receiving a response and before the final draft is due.
- Please explain the assignment in detail. Assignments may be similar in courses, but
each teacher has different expectations. If we don't know what the assignment is,
we cannot comment correctly.
- Is the main idea (thesis) or purpose clear?
- Does anything need further explanation or description? Or is there something that
doesn't seem relevant and should be omitted? If you are arguing a point, have you
made a convincing case? Does the paper achieve the purpose you have in mind?
- Is the paper effectively organized? Are the supporting ideas or sections or stages
clearly separate? Are they in the most effective order? Would the paper be easy to
- Is there a sentence or passage that might confuse the reader?
- Is there a technical matter (in punctuation, grammar, word choice, documentation style,
or something else) you are unsure about?
The Center for Writing Excellence offers online reviews of essays. These are great
for students who can’t actually come to the Writing Lab, but sometimes students accustomed
to personal tutoring don’t know how to interpret the feedback given in these sessions.
Tutors look at two types of concerns:
- Higher-Order Concerns – These are higher priority items that affect the paper as a
- Topic – Is the topic narrowed properly? Does the thesis statement cover the topic
as a whole?
- Tone – Does the point of view match the type of paper? Is the tone consistent throughout?
Are there sections that seem out of place?
- Organization – Is the paper set up in an easily understandable way? Does it go through
ideas in a logical order and explain everything that is necessary?
- Lower-Order Concerns – These are things that we fix after the paper is almost finished.
They are easy to correct, but they can only be done after the higher-order concerns
have been revised.
- Grammar and Punctuation – Is the paper mechanically correct? Are there misplaced words
or phrases that harm the meaning of individual ideas?
- Formatting – Does the paper match the style the instructor requires? Are the citations
in the text and in the end properly formatted?
In an online tutoring session, you tutor will comment on higher-order concerns for
your paper that focus on the general content and layout of your paper and then move
to the lesser concerns, such as grammar and formatting. They will point out both as
they move throughout your paper, but you should look for the more general problems
first and then move to smaller things like grammar and word choice.