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Strategies for developing a writing community for doctoral students

Kathryn Roulston (Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Deborah Teitelbaum (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, University of North Carolina, Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA)
Bo Chang (Department of Educational Studies, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA)
Ronald Butchart (Department of Educational Theory and Practice, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

International Journal for Researcher Development

ISSN: 2048-8696

Article publication date: 14 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to present considerations for developing a writing community for doctoral students.


The paper reflects on data from a self-study of a writing seminar in which the authors were involved. The authors examined students’ writing samples and peer-review comments, email correspondence, online discussion board postings, meeting minutes and participants’ reflections on their participation in the seminar.


While doctoral students described benefits from their participation in the writing seminar, the paper provides a cautionary tale concerning the challenges that can arise in the development and delivery of interventions that focus on developing writing communities involving doctoral students.

Research limitations/implications

This article draws on findings from an examination of a writing intervention to consider potential challenges that faculty and students face in developing writing communities. Findings may not apply to other kinds of settings, and they are limited by the small number of participants involved.

Practical implications

The paper discusses strategies that might be used to inform faculty in the development of writing communities for doctoral students.

Social implications

The authors’ experiences in developing and delivering a writing seminar highlight the importance of the process of trust-building for students to perceive the value of feedback from others so that they can respond to the technical demands of doctoral writing.


There is a growing body of work on the value of writing interventions for doctoral students such as retreats and writing groups. These are frequently facilitated by faculty whose area of expertise is in teaching writing. This paper contributes understanding to what is needed for faculty who are not writing instructors to facilitate groups of this sort. Participants must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence as writers to review others’ work; develop trusting, collegial relationships with one another; and be willing to contribute to others’ development and make a commitment to accomplishing the required tasks.



Roulston, K., Teitelbaum, D., Chang, B. and Butchart, R. (2016), "Strategies for developing a writing community for doctoral students", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 198-210.



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