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by Cally Guerin, Claire Aitchison and Susan Carter

The QPR Special Interest Group (SIG) for Doctoral Writing met on the last day of the Quality in Postgraduate Research conference in Adelaide, South Australia last week. The Doctoral Writing SIG is a loose arrangement of people who come together at the biennial QPR Conference. This, our second gathering, was attended by about 40 people with a common interest in doctoral writing. This year, in addition to ‘SIG business’ and a quick report on the DoctoralWriting blog, the SIG Organising Committee arranged for sharing of practice via a lively pecha kucha segment.

The DoctoralWriting blog

The readership of the blog has continued to grow since our previous SIG meeting at QPR in 2014, and already this year we’ve had half the number of readers that we had in the whole of last year. It’s certainly not huge in terms of research blogs, but pleasing to know that there are writing teachers, supervisors and PhD candidates out there who find it a useful resource. New voices are joining our conversations all the time—11 guest bloggers have contributed to our site since the 2014 meeting, plus another 8 who wrote specifically about the technologies they have found useful for getting their theses written. This report on the SIG meeting is a chance to thank all of you who have written posts, commented, shared and read the blog—you form the community we’d hoped to build when we started out in 2012.

Sharing our work supporting doctoral writing

Then the fun began with a pecha kucha session facilitated by Lizzie Towl, with help from the SIG Organising Committee. SIG members had been invited to share their favourite writing exercises with the group. The five presentations were:

Jo Edmondston “Exploring how to structure writing with mixed lollies”
Monica Behrend “Developing a focusing question”
Meeta Chatterjee-Padmanabhan “Writing the literature review: Crossing a threshold”
Susan Gasson “Tracking writing success”
Claire Aitchison “Writing, reviewing and editing – not to be confused”

The audience participated energetically in the activities. For some of us, it was such a pleasure to be allowed to take up the position of student for a change. All brought wonderful insights into the teaching of doctoral writing and practical information about what is going on in our peers’ classrooms. We also left with new exercises for our own writing workshops.

This generous sharing of knowledge and practice is at the core of the Doctoral Writing SIG. We plan to bring you blogs about these activities in future months in the hope that you too will find them helpful for supporting the writing of doctoral scholars or to kick-start your own research writing.

A new committee of six SIG members agreed to take on the job of organising our next meeting during QPR in 2018. In the meantime, a special thank you to Susan Mowbray for agreeing to continue to manage our listserv. And thank you also to the 2016 SIG Meeting organisers: Claire Aitchison, Cally Guerin, Susan Carter, Monica Behrend, Lizzie Towl, Jamie Burford and Cat Mitchell.