How these workshops are organised
A group of researchers and/or fellows (either in the same discipline or 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 4-5 members) also 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 first briefs his/her peers by indicating what stage the writing is at (e.g. first draft, first revision, about to be sent to supervisor), what kind of feedback he/she feels would be useful, and if there are any specific parts of the text that he/she would particularly like the group to focus on.
The group then provides feedback to the writer.
After having discussed the various texts, there is usually a round of de-briefing in which the writers identify which points they have found most useful and how they intend to use their colleagues’ observations in revising their work.
At the end of each session, the group decides on their objectives and work plan for the following session.
There are several advantages to this mode of work for an academic author at the Institute:
- it fosters writer autonomy while providing pedagogical support and expertise;
- it improves clarity and readability of drafts to be presented to supervisors, as well as eventual thesisrelated conference presentations and related articles;
- it provides a structured opportunity to give and receive peer feedback, of formative value for the following stages of an academic career.