Students may not be able to meet up in person at the moment, but an innovative virtual writing retreat took place on 14 and 15 January to encourage a group of doctoral students to reflect on their academic writing and share good practice with their peers.

Academic Skills Course Leaders Dave Busby and Tom Reid facilitated the hands-on retreat on Microsoft Teams, following a similar event in summer 2020, with 24 doctoral students taking part.

Dave Busby explained: 'The idea was based on creative writing retreats where writers discuss ideas and practice, then go and write and then return to share their writing. We thought this 'community of practice' model would be helpful for students currently studying and writing in isolation. Although our retreat was for doctoral students, students at all levels would benefit from a similar workshop.'

The theme of the retreat was 'clarity in writing'. On day one, the session started with a short presentation about clarity in academic writing and a small group collaborative task. The students followed this by discussing and sharing their ideas on how to make academic writing clearer - a big challenge facing doctoral students writing about often complex research.

The students spent the rest of the day writing, editing or taking notes for their dissertations, applying some of the techniques from the morning session. On day two, the group met to recap, share and feed back on their writing activities.

Angie Bailey (PhD Research Programme in Education) described the two-day retreat as 'very effective, helpful and informative', and Eulalie Norinah Greenaway Allen (DBA Higher Education Management) added that 'it gave me the confidence and motivation to move forward with my project.'

The writing retreat offered a nice possibility to exchange with others and learn more about their experience. Dave and Tom were fantastic in providing helpful tips and tricks for any academic writing issues we had. Highly recommend! - Katharina Hug (PhD Research Programme in Management)

If you would like to find out more about the writing retreat and how you could run a similar workshop for your students, please contact Dave Busby in the Skills Centre.