Write away from it all! The value of running a writing retreat for doctoral students

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Davis, Geraldine ; Wright, Hazel ; Holley, Debbie (2016)
  • Publisher: University of Cumbria
  • Subject: Z489
    acm: GeneralLiterature_MISCELLANEOUS

Doctoral candidates often struggle to write at doctoral level. This struggle has many causes, but one of these is finding the time and support to write. We describe and analyse a doctoral writing retreat aimed to encourage doctoral candidates to develop their academic writing and offer new insights into successful retreats. In this article, we provide a comprehensive review of the literature about writing retreats and how these have been conceived and devised. Reviewing international literature about development of academic writing, we discuss the range of retreats, their aims and successes. We identify the approach to writing within the UK and the limited references to retreats to support doctoral candidates to develop their writing. The writing retreat we devised is described in detail, to enable others to make use of this approach. Features of the retreat which were valued by participants are identified and explored. The structured element chosen by some candidates supported the development of specific skills and techniques to enable participants to write more confidently. Participants stated the value to them of the time and space to write, in a supportive environment. The writing retreat provided a period of time which enabled participants to engage in a prolonged period of writing and to establish practice in writing. Particular advantages were identified for participants who are part-time doctoral candidates. The findings extend the knowledge and understanding within the existing literature about doctoral writing retreats.
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