Home » Services and Admin » Language Centre » English » Academic Writers' Groups

EUI Academic Writers' Groups

 

 

English 610


2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th year researchers

Time & Place


Academic Writers' Groups run from October - June. 

Frequency, time, & place will be decided on by each group.   

Groups may meet in person, hybridly, or online. 

Facilitator


Contact: Nicola Hargreaves

Each group will be assigned an English Unit Facilitator

  

 

 

 

Academic writers’ groups at the EUI


The English Unit runs Academic Writers’ Groups for small groups of young academics across the EUI academic community. 

The aim of Writers' Groups is to support the later stages of thesis and related writing, as well as writing for publication. Academic writers’ groups provide a way for the participants to work on their writing in a semi-structured setting. 

 

What are academic writers’ groups?


In recent years, increasing attention has been paid in research on English for Academic Purposes, Writing Across the Curriculum, as well as Academic Literacies, to supporting dissertation writing and related publishing.

Experience in various contexts (Aitchison, 2003; Aitchison & Guerin, 2014; Murray/Moore, 2006; Rollinson, 2004) has shown that writers’ groups are an effective method for receiving constructive feedback on the readability and effectiveness of texts for both native and non-native writers of English in various contexts. 

How do academic writers’ groups at the EUI function?


  • A group of researchers and/or fellows (usually in the same discipline or disciplinary field, but also in neighbouring disciplines) arrange to meet on a regular basis (every few weeks) in order to read and critique each others’ work in progress. 
  • The group (usually 3-4 members) includes a facilitator (a member of the English Unit staff), whose role is to chair discussions, to prompt group members to articulate their observations in a focused way, and to promote a problem-solving approach to removing writing barriers.
  • Before each session, short segments of text (e.g. introductions to chapters, commentary on tables, literature reviews, etc.) are circulated to all members of the group. Experience shows that to allow adequate time for discussion, an upper page limit is 4-5 pages per writer per session.  
  • In a typical session (usually about one and a half hours) each piece of writing is discussed in turn: each writer briefs the others on the text presented; each reader provides feedback; at the end each writer may debrief on what they found useful and how they intend to use their colleagues' observations. 
  • At the end of each session, the group decides on their objectives and work plan for the following session. 
 

Why join an academic writers' group?


There are several advantages to this mode of work for an academic author:

  1. it fosters writer autonomy while providing pedagogical support and expertise;
  2. it improves clarity and readability of drafts to be presented to supervisors, as well as eventual thesis related conference presentations and related articles, academic blogs, etc.;
  3. it provides a structured opportunity to give and receive peer feedback, of formative value for the following stages of an academic career;
  4. it creates intermediary deadlines.

How do I join an academic writers' group?


You can join or set up a writers' group at any time during the year. 

Send a request stating 

  • your department
  • your year
  • your area of interest e.g. economic history, human rights law, political philosophy, microeconomics
  • if you already have a small group of colleagues (maximum 4 including yourself) interested in working together in a writers' group, provide us with their names, years and areas of interest

Further reading about writers' groups in the academic world


  • Aitchison, C. & Guerin, C. (ed.s), (2014) Writing Groups for Doctoral Education and Beyond: innovations in practice and theory, Routledge.
  • Aitchison, C. (2003) Thesis writing circles. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8:2: 97-115.
  • Basil Khalifa Costas Derek Cahusac de Caux, Cho Kwong Charlie Lam, Ricky Lau, Cuong Huu Hoang & Lynette Pretorius (2017) Reflection for learning in doctoral training: writing groups, academic writing proficiency and reflective practice, Reflective Practice, 18:4, 463-473
  • Kumar, V., Aitchison, C. (2018) Peer facilitated writing groups: a programmatice approach to doctoral student writing. Teaching in Higher Education 2018
  • Maher, Damian, Leonie Seaton, Cathi McMullen, Terry Fitzgerald, Emi Otsuji & Alison Lee (2008) ‘Becoming and being writers’: the experiences of doctoral students in writing groups,Studies in Continuing Education, 30:3, 263-275
  • Murray, R. and S. Moore (2006) The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach. McGraw Hill: Berkshire.
  • Rollinson, P. (2004) Experiences and perceptions in an ESL academic writing peer response group. Estudios Ingleses de la Universidad Complutense, 12: 12: 79-108. 

Page last updated on 18 December 2020