Writing groups provide an opportunity to develop scientific writing expertise, as well as act as a supporting structure helping participants achieve their writing goals.
Writing groups meet monthly over a period of 6–9 months. Each session is highly structured in order to provide the maximum benefits to the participants.
The following general structure can be adapted according to participants’ wishes & needs:
- [1h] Introduction & reflection: Where do I stand? What do I need? (Reflection about the past month and the goals set for the past month. Decision about what to focus on in today‘s group work.)
- [0.5h] Q&A session and/or trainer input on a topic related to scientific writing & publishing. (The topic is selected prior to the meeting according to participants‘ wishes.)
- [1h] Group work: Discuss your issues, get & give text feedback, practice your writing skills with provided exercises, work on your writing project (divided in smaller groups according to participants‘ needs and preferences.)
- [0.5h] Closing round & goal setting (Setting goals for the next month, closing reflection.)
Writing groups are most useful in the first and last phase of the PhD:
I. “Kickstart your PhD” writing group helps the beginning PhD students develop their scientific writing skills, get organized and build collegial and collaborative relationships with their peers. This writing group is ideal as a follow-up to the basic workshop Develop your scientific writing. Participants learn to use writing as a support for their scientific thinking, start to document their research activities in great detail and develop productive routines. They practice with provided exercises as well as via getting & giving peer feedback on scientific texts and benefit from monthly goal setting & reflection about their progress. At the end, participants appear as self-confident writers ready to tackle independent writing projects.
II. “Finish your PhD” writing group functions as a success team & accountability group, helping participants juggle multiple projects and responsibilities, overcome challenges and work consistently towards their writing goals. This format provides a framework for participants to prioritize & schedule their writing and remaining experimental work, reflect upon their progress, plan next steps, ask for advice & feedback, and get inspired & motivated through their involvement with struggles & successes of their peers.
I learned to think about a text in a more structured way — writing & revising now seems less overwhelming.
The monthly goal-setting was very useful. It helped me to stay on track with my thesis.
I really like this format because it connects PhD students and makes them more aware of each other’s work.