OWL Mail Policies FAQs
What is the Purdue OWL?
The Purdue Online Writing Lab, or Purdue OWL for short, is part of the Purdue University Writing Lab. While the Writing Lab provides one-on-one, face-to-face writing tutorials to Purdue University students, the Purdue OWL is a writing-resource website that is open to users around the globe at no cost.
Who are the OWL Mail tutors and what do they do?
The OWL Mail tutors are members of the Purdue University Writing Lab staff. They spend much of their time assisting Purdue University students in one-to-one writing tutorials at the Purdue Writing Lab. While all OWL Mail tutors are graduate students, many of them are graduate students who are specializing in Rhetoric and Composition and who also teach in Purdue University’s Introductory Writing, ESL Writing, and/or Professional Writing Programs. They will answer short, specific writing-related questions. This may include questions such as: How do I cite a Kindle Book in MLA? or, How do I format a business email?
What kind of questions do OWL Mail tutors answer?
The OWL Mail tutors will answer short, specific question about things like: proper citation, formatting, grammar, and working through the writing process. Tutors will not respond to entire documents of any kind. Please do not send your papers to OWL Mail.
Will OWL Mail tutors read and comment/correct my paper/assignment?
While we will happily respond to short, specific questions about discrete passages in a text, we do not have the resources at our disposal to offer exhaustive comments on an entire draft. If you are a Purdue University student, and would like more extensive feedback, we suggest that you make an appointment to meet with a tutor either at the Writing Lab in Heavilon Hall, or at one of our satellite locations.
If you are not a Purdue University student, we suggest that you check the website of the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA). The IWCA maintains a list of writing labs that offer online tutoring. However, some of these writing labs only offer assistance to students enrolled in courses at the University to which they are attached.
I’ve sent numerous, lengthy emails to OWL Mail, but I haven’t heard anything back. Why is this?
Due to limited resources, OWL Mail tutors are only able to answer short, specific writing-related questions. So, while they are able to guide you to resources to help you with coming up with ideas for you paper—invention—they cannot be a “brain-storming buddy.” Also, due to time constraints, tutors may not be able to respond the same day. Please allow plenty of time for a response, and please be patient.
How long does it take to hear back from the OWL Mail tutors?
OWL Mail experiences a very large volume of traffic. Because of this and a relatively small staff size, it may take between 7 and 14 days to get a response to your question.
Please note that during the summer our staffing drops dramatically, and this can lead to longer delays in OWL Mail responses. Our tutors do not respond during Purdue University holidays and breaks. Also, towards the beginning and end of a semester, OWL experiences a sharp increase in traffic. Again, allow plenty of time for a response, and please be patient.
One to two weeks?! Why so long?
OWL Mail receives hundreds of questions each week. That’s a lot of email! Also, the OWL Mail tutors also offer live, one-on-one tutorials in the Writing Lab and answer OWL Mail between appointments. So, between the large number of emails each week, and the relatively low staffing levels, it can take some time for us to get back to you—normally one to two weeks.
During the summer, our staffing drops dramatically, and this can lead to longer delays in OWL Mail responses. Also, towards the beginning and end of a semester, OWL experiences a sharp increase in traffic. Again, allow plenty of time for a response, and please be patient.