For Semester 2 we changed the Writing Club meetings to Monday to accommodate our teaching schedules and finding a way of maintaining our practice has been a real benefit.
We were also successful in our bid for MOS Strategic Innovation Fund enabling us to organise a Residential Writing Retreat in the Northumberland countryside for Early Career Academics in early July.
Here is an excerpt from our bid explaining the value of Writing Retreats.
Following numerous positive experiences of the NUBS Early Career Researcher Writing Club (co-founded by three MOS ECR members), we believe a useful addition to our professional development and fostering the research culture would be to run a residential writing retreat that follows the same guidelines as the Writing Club. The main purpose of the club is to advance the research output, which is one of the core strategic goals at NUBS, as the institution is committed to research-led practices.
The ECR Writing Club provides a supportive community and a structured writing practice. Our routine includes sharing our writing goals for the day and follows the Pomodoro Technique to maintain focus and motivation. As the club is of an inclusive character, the invitation to take part is extended to a wider group of NUBS colleagues seeking a quiet and dedicated time and space to progress academic writing projects.
Increasingly the practice of offering academic writing retreats is shown to provide personal, professional and organisational benefits.
The five key elements of writing retreats conducive to increasing publication output were protected time and space; community of practice; development of academic writing competence; intra-personal benefits and organisational investment. Participants involved achieved greater publication outputs, particularly when provided ongoing support (Kornhaber et al. 2016).
Institutions encouraging writing retreats in practice include Bath, Sheffield and Warwick Universities, to provide supportive communities of practice free from other commitments and distractions. Variants include adopting a neo-liberal approach to quantify productivity and performance against projected outputs (https://theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com). Our ECR Writing Club is committed to setting goals at the beginning of the writing sessions and then reflecting at the end of the day how these goals have been achieved.
This will be valuable to MOS and NUBS colleagues in terms of advancing the existing research culture and support the development of published work, tying with the research aims of the School and research communities to produce high-quality research output, aimed at 3* and 4* ABS publications. Finally, such activities contribute to stronger social cohesiveness within the school. Positive working culture is an important institutional objective for NUBS and such activities directly contribute to it.
Kornhaber et al. (2016) The benefits and challenges of academic writing retreats: an integrative review. Journal of Higher Education Research and Development. 25 (6): 1210-1227. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1144572