PhD students from across multiple EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training and relevant research groups recently benefited from a two-day residential facilitated writing retreat, which was held at Beamish Hall in County Durham on 27-28 November 2018.
The aim of the residential retreat, which was attended by 28 PhD students from across 10 Universities, was to create a positive, quiet and productive environment in order to maximise writing productivity via eight time-facilitated sessions over the two days.
When registering for the event, attendees were required to specify what they would be using the retreat for, and they also discussed their short, medium and longer term writing goals in pairs at the start of Day One.
PhD students at various stages of their programmes, from across the following nine EPSRC-supported Digital Economy Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)/relevant research groups benefited from this event:
- Cloud Computing for Big Data (Newcastle University)
- Digital Civics (Newcastle University)
- Embedded Intelligence (Loughborough University)
- Healthcare Innovation (University of Oxford)
- HighWire (Lancaster University)
- IGGI: Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (Goldsmiths)
- Media and Arts Technology (Queen Mary University of London)
- Web Science (University of Southampton)
- The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Loughborough University London)
The majority of PhD students present were concentrating on writing or editing their thesis, although other writing goals included drafting conference papers or journal articles, literature reviews, preparing for an annual review and coding.
Student feedback included the following:
“During this writing retreat I wrote an abstract for a conference. The DEN retreat helps create an ideal environment for producing quality writing material” (PhD Student – 2016 cohort, Embedded Intelligence CDT, Loughborough University)
“I set a challenge of writing the introduction to my thesis over the first day. The writing sessions helped me to focus on the goals and made the writing more manageable. I was able to achieve my goal of writing my introduction” (PhD Student – 2015 cohort), Digital Civics CDT, Newcastle University)
The feedback from the PhD student attendees indicated that they also specifically valued the opportunity to talk and network with peers over the breaks and dinner, share common research interests and expertise, as well as providing and receiving advice. This retreat provided an opportunity to meet with other CDT students they may not have necessarily have met, would it not been for an event such as this.