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Reading this paragraph,

Before requesting information from a graduate school, consider the nature of the information you seek — is it administrative or academic? The Office of Graduate Admissions at a graduate school is an administrative office that receives application materials and sorts/redistributes them to academic departments where the actual admission decisions are made — by professors. The Office of Graduate Admissions may have answers you seek related to general administrative matters, such as the application process, deadlines, and test score submission — although most of this information is available on the admissions pages of a graduate school’s website. That said, the Office of Graduate Admissions probably will not have answers to academic/research-related questions, such as what are the research interests and expertise of the faculty within an academic department or what the application procedures are for teaching/research assistantships within an academic department. Answers to academic/research-related questions are found either on the academic department’s website (where faculty often post their research) or by contacting the individual faculty members directly — by e-mail.

I was wondering whether I can use other punctuation to replace these four em dashes. and I would like to hear how native speakers think.

My speculation is

  1. could be replaced by a comma or a pair of parentheses

...,consider the nature of the information you seek, is it administrative or academic?

...,consider the nature of the information you seek. (Is it administrative or academic?)

  1. no

  2. could be replaced by a comma or a pair of parentheses

...The Office of Graduate Admissions may have answers you seek related to ..., and test score submission. (Although most of this information is available on the website.)

...The Office of Graduate Admissions may have answers you seek related to ..., and test score submission, although most of this information is available on the website.

  1. no
1

There should always be alternatives to em dashes—and there are always alternatives to every punctuation if you can rephrase something.

For example:

  1.  . . . consider the nature of the information you seek. Is it administrative or academic?

Replaced with a period.

  1.  . . . where the actual admission decisions are made by professors.

Removed altogether.

  1.  . . . and test score submission, although most of this information . . .

Replaced with a comma.

  1.  . . . by contacting the individual faculty member directly by email.

Removed altogether.

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