Supporting Postgraduate Researcher Writing

The Doctoral College offers a range of writing support for PGRs throughout their research journey. You can download a PDF copy of the Resources to Support PGR Writing Groups

Over the 2017-2018 academic year our Researcher Development Manager Kelly Preece ran a project on support PGR and ECR writing with Dr. Sally Flint, Honorary Research Fellow and Poet. Together, Kelly and Sally used their shared expertise in academic and creative writing to research and develop an approach to running social writing spaces to promote and foster wellbeing and productivity. The project was subsequently awarded funding from by the University of Exeter Alumni Annual Fund from 2018-2021.

The‌ project explores the scholarship around the challenges of research writing, specifically the work of Rowena Murray (Murray and Newton, 2009 and Murray, 2015), and Pat Thomson and Barbara Kamler (Kamler and Thomson, 2014, Thomson and Kamler, 2016) on doctoral and research writing. Writing groups will follow a similar format to Murray’s structured writing retreats, providing a focused and dedicated writing space with support from a trained PGR/ECR facilitator. Sessions will follow Murray’s typing pool model, where:

  • Everyone is writing together in one room
  • Time is structured in to a series of writing and discussion slots
  • Discussions includes sharing writing-in-progress and goals (Murray 2005)

The objectives of the project are:

  • To develop a structured approach to offering writing groups to our PGRs
  • To train and empower our PGRs and ECRs to set-up and run local writing groups
  • To create a network of training and support for facilitators, and develop expertise and practice at the university
  • To create a culture in the PGR community that values writing time, shares writing experiences and creates a peer-led community of practice
  • And finally to impact on the productivity and wellbeing of our PGRs

To address these objectives, funds will be used to develop training and resources for PGRs and ECRs to run their own writing groups, and promote the value and importance of early writing and structured writing to wellbeing and timely completion.

So far we have developed a Resources to Support PGR Writing Groups handbook, and accommpanying PGR Writing cards, containing the creative and discussion tasks used by our facilitators. We have also developed a version of Supporting Academic Writing cards.

The aim of our writing groups, and the Supporting PGR Writing project, is to provide a regular, dedicated space to not only ‘get writing done’, but also to encourage early and ongoing writing and provide an opportunity for ongoing peer feedback and support. We currently run four types of writing groups:

Shut Up and Write

We co-ordinate a weekly Shut Up and Write group on a Friday. Using the Shut Up and Write Tuesday method, PGRs meet for 2 hours and divide their writing time using the Pomodoro technique.

Write Club

Write Clubs are run by a trained PGR or ECR facilitator, and usually last 3-4 hours. Time is structured to include a combination of creative tasks, discussion slots and writing time.

Writing Retreat

Our writing retreats are very similar to our Write Clubs - only longer! Writing Retreats run 10am-4pm, and will again include a combination of creative tasks, discussion slots and writing time.

Online Writing Retreats

Our Online Writing Retreats also use the Pomodoro technique, and take place virtually on Skype for Business like our WEBINARs


We have writing groups running on our Streatham, St. Luke's and Penryn campuses and online. You can find the full list of the Write Clubs that are running on our Writing RSS Feed, along with all the writing workshops and WEBINARs we are running on the Researcher Development Programme.

Are you interested in becoming a writing group facilitator? To become a writing group facilitator PGRs and ECRs are required to:

  • Complete LTHE Stage 1
  • Attend Writing Group Facilitator’s Training
  • Attend at least one writing group as a participant
  • Co-facilitate a writing group

We will run Writing Group Facilitator's Training termly as required - please contact to register your interest!

Writing group facilitation can be used as part of your LTHE Stage 2 teaching hours, and for your Aspire Associate Fellowship application for which we have created a Writing group facilitator exemplar.

Recognising our facilitators

The success of the Supporting PGR Writing project is down to our researchers who give their time and expertise to facilitate writing groups, both face-to-face and online.

The following researchers are members of the 'Write Club 10 Club', in recognition of delivering 10 writing sessions as part of the Supporting PGR Writing Project:


  • Charlotte Chivers
  • Debbie Kinsey
  • Edward Mills
  • Ellen Lesser
  • Jo Sutherst










The following researchers are members of the 'Write Club 20 Club', in recognition of delivering 10 writing sessions as part of the Supporting PGR Writing Project:

  • Donna Poade

The following researchers are members of the 'Write Club 30 Club', in recognition of delivering 10 writing sessions as part of the Supporting PGR Writing Project:

  • Abigail O'Brien
Abigail O'Brien
Charlotte Chivers
Debbie Kinsey
Donna Poade
Edward Mills
Ellen Lesser
Jo Sutherst

‌November is Academic Writing Month, an academic write-a-thon that happens every year, inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but catering to the specific needs of academic writers. It’s hosted by PhD2Published, as an online space where the global academic community can pledge their writing projects, record progress, and share thousands of writing tips via the #AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter.

We are once again joining the University of Sheffield WriteFest (#AcWriFest19) initiative, bringing together people from across the university to recognise and celebrate writing. You can find out about all the events we have planned on our Write Fest webpage.

Our Exeter Learning Environment (ELE) page is full of useful resources on writing – you might specifically be interested in our resource pages on:

These pages include all our workshops materials, WEBINAR recordings, elearning courses, and curated links to online materials and training.

The INTO Insessional Programme offers a wide range of support for our international researchers. This includes workshops on doctoral writing, writing tutorials, and the research student’s group. You can find out more on the insessional programme website.

On a campus support is echoed with online support and materials through two ELE pages - the Doctoral Writing ELE page and the Insessional Research Students Group ELE page, for which you need to self-register by searching for the page on ELE, and using the passkey ins102z to gain access.

They can also offer a small number of one-to-one skype tutorials for those based off campus. Please contact Emma Sweeney to make arrangements.

If you have any further questions about the Insessional programme and INTO support, please contact Soo Yim on

Do you need help with academic writing? If so then you can book an appointment with one of the Royal Literary Fund Fellows. The Fellows are available by office appointment to help all members of the University – undergraduates and postgraduates alike – with queries and problems relating to the practical aspects of writing.

To arrange a meeting, please visit the Royal Literary Fund Office and sign up on the door for a convenient appointment. You can find the RLF office in Room 237, Queen’s Building, telephone 01392 72 2450.

The university has a wide variety of study space available, including a PGR only reading room in the Old Library. The PGR Reading Room has bookable desks, and is a great place to write. You can find out more and book a desk through the Library Study Space website. 

Other spaces on Streatham campus include: 

Got any suggestions of other writing spaces? Specifically on our St. Luke's and Penryn campuses? Please let us know!