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Writing retreat as structured intervention : margin or mainstream?

Rowena, Murray and Mary, Newton and , British Academy (Funder) (2009) Writing retreat as structured intervention : margin or mainstream? Higher Education Research and Development, 28 (5). pp. 541-553. ISSN 0729-4360

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Academics across the world face increasing pressure to publish. Research shows that writing retreats have helped by creating dedicated writing time and building collegiality. A new form of 'structured' writing retreat was created to increase its impact by taking a community of practice approach. This paper reports on an evaluation, funded by the British Academy, in which participants were interviewed one year after structured retreat. They reported many changes in their approaches to writing and in their sense of themselves as writers and some of these changes were sustained on return to campus. This paper argues that structured retreat increases learning through participation and helps academics to mainstream writing in their lives and careers. We conclude by suggesting that, since publishing is a mainstream academic activity, it makes sense to mainstream this intervention in academic careers.