I provide high-quality guidance for taking your project to the next level, so you can create a successful end product; consistent celebration of your milestones, skills, and discoveries, so you can enjoy your work; and holistic support for navigating complex feelings, relationships, and goals, so you can come out of this process stronger.

Fundamentals of Research Writing

Description: Ground your reading, planning, drafting, and revising in the “four corners of research writing”: stakes, research gap, thesis, and evidence. This monthly coaching plan uses detailed, illustrative coaching documents and small cohorts to help bring your project to life at any stage. The Fundamentals makes explicit many writing aspects which until now you may have just had to intuit. It also provides affirmation and a community for making progress on your project.

Details: For new cohorts, a Get-to-Know-You meeting offers a reflective (and sometimes cathartic) opportunity for us to survey your past writing experiences and to identify overlaps among participants in your needs and goals. Then each month, as a cohort we have a Structured Co-Working session to learn and apply a new fundamental writing skill, like exploring the features of a thesis or creating a clear turn in the research gap. Personalized Feedback provides a brief written response to your work from me, and Encouragement by email offers genuine affirmations and care. These monthly interactions build on each other and help keep you accountable.


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Strategy Coaching

Description: Address conceptually challenging and emotionally difficult decisions about your research writing with individualized support, one-on-one together. This monthly coaching plan provides access to a range of coaching documents and adapts in focus to meet what’s weighing on you. For example, clients have worked through challenging aspects like: beginning to write a dissertation chapter, planning your thesis by creating figures, deciding what (or whether) to publish based on writing you’ve already done, constructing a research gap that contributes to existing scholarship, and working through feeling like your scholarly ideas aren’t being received by the field. Our sessions give you the space to work through your next steps and keep you on track.

Details: For new clients, an Extended Get-to-Know-You orients us to your goals and gives you a chance to reflect on past successes and challenges one-on-one. Then each month, we have an Individual Workshopping/Planning session tailored to your goals, usually focused on crafting a personalized next step for your writing. In-Depth Feedback offers thoughtful suggestions for a chunk of your reading/planning/drafting/revising each month, and Holistic, Detailed Encouragement of your work by email provides detailed, genuine affirmation and care based on a holistic sense of your work recently. These monthly interactions build on each other and help keep you accountable. Your first Equity Workshop is also included free (see below) to assist your long-term academic research writing habits.


Registration currently closed.

Equity Workshops

Description: Learn, discuss, and apply a new way of building equity right into research writing. In stand-alone Equity Workshops, we recognize that ethical research writing goes far beyond honestly presenting data and citing your sources, but that for many academics it’s also hard to find time to seek out, evaluate, absorb, and apply new suggestions. Equity Workshops scaffold this process by assembling challenging material, condensing it, and offering concrete strategies for changing our intellectual habits. Workshops are discussion-based, with workshop notes available for participants to make use of afterward.

Details: Held monthly for 90 minutes:

  • Friday, Sept 25, 2:00pm-3:30pm EST, Using a visual heuristic to diversify your bibliography. Our citation practices, especially when developing a research gap, often tend to reinforce racial, gender, and other hierarchies that have gotten locked into academia. One small step toward equity that we can do individually is learning to highlight scholarship that we already know about that’s written by marginalized scholars. This seminar introduces a visual heuristic of digital “tags” for Mac and Windows files as a way to achieve this and to begin a new awareness process. Tagging our files helps us to observe how diverse our reading has been, to highlight marginalized scholars that we already know about, and to direct our next steps in diversifying our bibliographies.
  • Wed, Oct 21, 3:00pm-4:30pm EST, Crafting equitable stakes: Drawing in diverse perspectives on significance. When we write about our stakes (why a project matters in the real world), we sometimes take the simplest path. We justify the stakes of our projects by how much money our results can make companies, how efficient our algorithms are, how the military or politicians or hospitals can benefit, etc. Even when they’re well developed, these lines of thought tend to reinforce marginalized populations. This workshop provides an alternative: that we should draw in diverse perspectives for the stakes in order to articulate a desirable world. First, we practice recognizing and anticipating conflicts in how different groups evaluate a given project’s significance. Then, we examine concrete cases where scholars have chosen to define their project’s stakes counterculturally, by reference to those not already in power. Finally, we practice a heuristic for drawing out more radical possibilities within our own projects to articulate a desirable world.
  • Mon, Nov 9, 4pm-5:30pm EST, Crafting equitable evidence: Thanking those we depend on


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Book Editing and Special Projects

I am available to provide developmental editing on special projects, including book manuscripts. Developmental editing is the most focused version of coaching, in that it meets projects in the revision stage, after they've already been drafted. A typical set-up includes a mix of synchronous meetings and written comments. In the written feedback, I provide marginal notes that describe my experience as a reader and point to bigger questions/suggestions for the text. I also write an extended reflection that offers affirmation of your writing, encouragement in your process, observations about how the writing (especially across chapters, when relevant) develops 2-3 big focal aspects, and suggestions for how to refine those aspects further in clarity, depth, and connection to real-world and scholarly implications.

$100/hr, get in touch by email: wpenman@gmail.com

Who will I be working with?
Who will I be working with?

Hi! i'm Will Penman. I received my Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2018. I currently teach research writing at Princeton University.


In my own research, I've studied anti-racism, religion, and artificial intelligence from a rhetorical perspective. I've had four articles accepted in peer-reviewed journals, I've presented at more than a dozen conferences, and I've been awarded multiple grants. I'd say my favorite paper that I've written is probably "A field-based rhetorical critique of ethical accountability," which was published in 2018 in Quarterly Journal of Speech, because the reviewers were excited about its potential, and because QJS has high status in the field of rhetoric.

Experience teaching and coaching

I am an award-winning teacher with 7 years of experience teaching research writing to small groups of motivated students. In that time I've guided over 450 research projects from start to finish, including personal meetings with each writer and detailed, individualized comments on each draft. I've led special sections for multilingual students and have worked for 2 years (going on 3) at Princeton University. I have developed useful concepts and processes for research writing including the "four corners of research writing," and my anti-racist approach helps all writers attend to systemic nuances of academic writing. I've additionally consulted one-on-one with almost 100 students (undergraduate, Masters, and PhD) on their existing writing projects in fields as diverse as business, architecture, rhetoric, engineering, history, molecular biophysics, theology, and machine learning.

Awards and accomplishments

In 2017 I was awarded a Graduate Student Teaching Award from Carnegie Mellon's English Department.

I'm proudest of what my students have been able to accomplish.

Several of my students have succeeded beyond what the first-year undergraduate writing requirement would expect. In early 2020, my student Grace Liu, a first-year at Princeton, had her seminar paper accepted for presentation at the British Society for the History of Science conference (canceled due to coronavirus). Titled “‘A few small inconveniences’: Environmental, ethical, and socioeconomic anxieties over personal transportation technologies in 1830s British caricature,” Grace's paper was conceptualized and carried out in my class. In summer 2020, Rebecka Mähring, a rising sophomore at Princeton, saw her seminar paper from my class accepted for presentation at the Northeast Popular Culture Association annual conference: “Reshaping sociotechnical imaginaries in Cold War era ads.”

In 2018, my student Epifanio Torres conceptualized and carried out a paper in my class that compared frameworks for regulating AI. From 2019-2020, I mentored Epifanio weekly to revise the paper, submit it to a scholarly journal, and navigate revisions. I came alongside as a co-author in the process. In early 2020, while Epifanio was a sophomore, our paper was accepted for publication in the interdisciplinary journal AI & Society, as “An emerging AI mainstream: Deepening our comparisons of AI frameworks through rhetorical analysis.”

I helped Epifanio publish in a peer-reviewed journal based on his first-year seminar paper.


I've received consistently enthusiastic feedback on my teaching through course evaluations. (Research shows that students tend not to give women and people of color their due in course evaluations, so my high scores should be read with that in mind.) At Carnegie Mellon, my sections stood out even in a college and department that emphasizes teaching.

Across all nine measures of teaching, my research writing courses from Fall 2013 through Spring 2017 received higher scores on average than even the Carnegie Mellon English Department.

Likewise, at Princeton my students have been extremely positive in assessing my ability to support their research writing. Their comments emphasize how much I care and how helpful our sessions are:

  • "I definitely understand the writing process better after this class. My writing has become a lot more methodical and I'm able to better understand what techniques of writing work and which don't through critiquing the work of me and my classmates."
  • "The feedback was very useful, and consistently struck a balance between highlighting exemplary ideas and pushing for more through constructive criticism."
  • "The feedback was very useful. Dr. Penman did a great job stimulating my thinking and leading me in productive directions without ever giving me one 'right answer,' and leaving me to make important discoveries on my own."
  • "I've really loved the stakes, research gap, thesis architecture that we've used this semester. I think this has been the most fundamental change for me in my writing, and it has really improved. I also really appreciated Dr. Penman's help in allowing me to organize/structure my methodology and analysis, really helping me tell a concrete story."
Supporting your project

I've had direct and indirect experience writing and reading in a variety of fields. With my background in rhetoric, I've also studied how scholars write across disciplines. There are only a few fields that I wouldn't feel comfortable guiding people in: math, some kinds of philosophy, and law. You're also welcome to email me if you're feeling unsure or hesitant: wpenman@gmail.com.