The following tips, advice, and resources have been compiled by UTM Philosophy’s staff and faculty. However, students may also find it useful to peruse the resources compiled by our other campus departments, UTSC Philosophy and St. George Philosophy, many of which apply to philosophy students across the board.
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UTM Philosophy offers a number of resources that can assist students with research, writing, subject matter expertise, and the use of learning technologies such as Blackboard, Turnitin.com, and UTORSubmit.
The following documents are adapted from course handouts prepared by philosophy instructors. While they contain much valuable advice, they cannot and are not intended to replace the instructions you receive from your instructors in your philosophy courses.
- General Advice On Essay Writing by Ronald de Sousa
- Guide for Writing Critical Summaries by Ronald de Sousa
- Writing a Philosophy Paper by Peter Horban (Simon Fraser University)
- Philosophy Paper Writing Guidelines by Tim O’Keefe and Anne Farrell (University of Minnesota at Morris)
- Tips on Writing a Philosophy Paper by Douglas W. Portmore (College of Charleston)
- Guidelines on Reading Philosophy by James Pryor (NYU)
- Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper by James Pryor (NYU)
NOTE: There will be no Essay Clinic on March 30th; it will be offered on Thursday March 29th at 3:30-5:30PM instead.
Same location: Academic Annex, room 122 (PAS Office)
No appointments. This is a “walk-in” clinic.
NEW Location: Academic Annex, room 122 (PAS office); enter via side door
What is the Essay Clinic for? What will I get out of the Essay Clinic?
The UTM Philosophy Clinic is an extremely useful resource offered for the benefit of students taking Philosophy courses at UTM. The purpose of the essay clinic is to help you improve your academic writing, and specifically your academic writing in Philosophy courses. As such, it is focused on your success in writing philosophy papers (and gaining other study skills that will help you in Philosophy). Thus, it will provide you with help that you cannot find elsewhere. The clinic is useful at all stages of writing your paper, whether you are simply at the brainstorming stage, whether you have little or no experience writing philosophy papers, or whether you have a nearly completed paper that you would like constructive comments on.
In other words, anyone who comes to the essay clinic will gain something out of the experience, whether he or she is a beginning or an advanced student. Students who are just beginning will emerge much better prepared to write their papers and will find that the process of writing a philosophy paper is not nearly as daunting as it might seem at first. Students who have taken a few or even many Philosophy courses will benefit from the opportunity to have their arguments constructively challenged and thus made all the stronger.
The essay clinic will provide you with help on any aspect of writing a Philosophy paper, including doing philosophical research, understanding your assigned topic, how to structure a paper, and what sort of language to use in philosophical writing. It will also help you to evaluate and strengthen the arguments you already have, or to envision new ones.
How does the Essay Clinic work? Who can use it?
The Essay Clinic is run by a graduate student in the Philosophy program who has extensive experience helping students to improve their essay writing skills and who has a great enthusiasm for doing so. The Essay Clinician will make every effort to help you improve your paper and writing skills!
Anyone registered in any Philosophy course at UTM can use the Essay Clinic.
Purpose and context of your assignment
It is always recommended that you bring with you a copy of the assignment paper or question sheet relevant to your essay. This is not required, but it will increase the usefulness of the Essay Clinic for you by helping both you and the Essay Clinician understand the purpose and context or your assignment.
Blackboard is a web-based, course management system used to deliver lectures, notes, assignments and other activities and materials. To access Blackboard, open a web browser and go to the Portal website and log in using your UTORid and password. UTM Library provides help for Blackboard to instructors and TAs.
In order for instructors to have access to their Blackboard course shell, they will need to have:
- A working UTORid (this can be verified if you’re uncertain);
- All required documentation and a signed contract submitted to UTM Human Resources; and,
- A UTORid associated with the course shell in ROSI by the UTM departmental ROSI administrator.
Please note that it takes 1-2 business days for enrolment information to be updated from ROSI to Blackboard.
UTORSubmit is a web application, developed by the University of Toronto Mississauga Information & Instructional Technology Services Department, which enables faculty to allow their students to submit assignment files online.
As an instructor, you would create an assignment within your course by logging in to UTORSubmit with your UTORid and password, and you would set the parameters for the assignment and the submission of files. Students use their UTORid and password to upload their files. Instructors or TAs may view or download and grade the papers. Students access their graded papers once they have been uploaded by the instructor or TA.
More detailed instructions on UTORSubmit are available:
A Microsoft Word File Saving Tutorial is available in a document from the University of Toronto Mississauga Information & Instructional Technology Services Department (PDF).
How do I create an account for my TA?
You can grant access to your TAs through the Manage TAs option under the Course Related Actions on your UTORSubmit dashboard. You will need to know your TA’s UTORid in order to grant him/her access to the UTORSubmit system.
TAs are able to:
- View class submissions overview
- View individual student’s submissions
- View the Turnitin Score (the numeric score only, not the detailed report from Turnitin.com)
- Download class submissions
- Upload results/feedback files
- View and download the class list
- Add/edit assignments
- Add/remove due date exceptions or extensions
- Add/remove other TAs from the course
- View detailed Turnitin report
Where can I get support?
The University of Toronto Mississauga Library offers basic training for faculty and TAs on how to use UTORSubmit: email email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.
Technical support is provided by Information & Instructional Technology Services: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information is provided on the UTM Library website.
What about using Turnitin.com with UTORSubmit?
Also, it is possible to use UTORSubmit with Turnitin.com. Turnitin.com is a tool that can be used to help detect plagiarism. If you are planning on using UTORSubmit with Turnitin.com, you must advise students that you will be using Turnitin.com with UTORSubmit in your course on your syllabus and offer them an alternative to the use of Turnitin.com.
The Conditions of Use and the text that must be provided in the syllabus if you are using Turnitin.com are located at the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) website. You will need to create a Turnitin.com account. To join the University of Toronto’s Turnitin.com account, UTM instructors can submit a request for help to create an account.
PowerPoint is a desktop program for creating presentations. These presentations are usually projected on a screen in a classroom or meeting room in place of traditional overheads or slides. PowerPoint is part of most versions of Microsoft Office, the suite of software that also includes Word & Excel among other programs.
Accessing the software PowerPoint is available separately or as part of Microsoft Office at special pricing for members of the University of Toronto community.
What does this do? Turnitin is a web-based system that makes it easy to identify students who submit unoriginal work, and acts as a deterrent to stop plagiarism before it starts. Instructors using this tool set up virtual classes to which students submit their assignments electronically. Each submitted paper is checked for textual similarity against billions of web pages, millions of resources stored in the Turnitin database, and article databases. Instructors receive originality reports that highlight passages that are similar to other works in each submitted assignment.
Accessing the software Turnitin is available to all University of Toronto instructors and students at no cost. You must advise students that you will be using Turnitin.com in your course on your syllabus and offer them an alternative to the use of Turnitin.com. The Conditions of Use and the text that must be provided in the syllabus are located at the Center for Teaching Support and Innovation (CTSI) website. You will need to create a Turnitin.com account. To join the University of Toronto’s Turnitin.com account, UTM instructors can submit a request to create an account.
Email help is available on a 24 hour basis from Turnitin Support Services.
The Center for Teaching Support and Innovation acts as the University administrator for Turnitin and will provide support and training for those wishing to use this service. It is recommended that all instructors read the conditions of use, available on the CTSI website, before adopting this service for your course. Basic support for Turnitin.com also is provided to UTM Instructors by UTM Library.
Using Turnitin With My Students
Prior to submitting papers, students will need to create their own user profile and can do so on the Turnitin website.
Instructors may wish to provide copies of the TA guide (PDF).