Royal Literary Fund Fellow Writing Tutorials and Workshops
- University College London
- Date first submitted:
- 20 Nov 2007
- Date last modified:
- 14 Mar 2011
- Relationship to RDF:
- Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
- Domain B: Personal effectiveness
- Domain C: Research governance and organisation
- Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
- Communication and dissemination
- Research project skills
- Postgraduate researchers
- Research masters
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
Articulating well with UCL’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that our research students receive appropriate training in advanced writing skills, the UCL Graduate School has engaged with UCL's Royal Literary Fund Fellows to provide training in effective academic writing.
These training opportunities articulate well with UCL's strategy to offer as wide a Skills Development Programme as possible, focusing specifically on academic writing skills, and complement the existing provision in this area.
There has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow (Professional authors who offer 1-2-1 tutorials in effective academic writing) at UCL for a number of years. Prior to the 2006/7 session, the Fellow was based in an academic Department and their services not widely know or utilised. Two Fellows are now based in the Graduate School (in a dedicated office in the Graduate School Training Suite). The Graduate School is responsible for advertising these services to the entire student community at UCL. The Fellows are available to all UCL students 4 days per week during term times to consult in 1-2-1 tutorials on effective writing strategies. Time with a Fellow can focus on an early draft of a student’s writing or just a section of that draft, or notes on a title. During the course of the consultation students can seek the Fellow's advice on structuring and planning their research and writing clearly and effectively and any other concerns they may have about their written work. The Fellows do not advise on content or teach English as a second language. Samples of written work may be dropped off at the Fellows' office a few days ahead of a booked session. In addition, one ex-Fellow with considerable experience at UCL and of working in the university environment, offers a workshop for research students: Creativity and Craft – Planning, Structuring, Researching and Managing your PhD: The course reviews the essential elements of a good PhD, considering the roles of creativity and craft in producing a thesis that is both original and well argued, and seeing how to alternate between creativity and craft in the planning, structuring, researching, and managing the whole thesis and individual chapters and papers. Students then practice one method of structuring work that: • focuses research • helps plan and manage time more effectively • enables students to develop and restructure work much more quickly and effectively • produces a coherent and clearly reasoned thesis • reduces the number of drafts needed • keeps students and their writing fresh A meditative technique is then practiced that enables students to draw on the creative power of their subconscious mind in order to generate insight, originality, ideas, and solutions for each stage of the process. The course also looks at producing a clear and effective submission draft for Upgrade, Journal Paper, or Thesis Chapter. The course examines the stages of a drafting process that uses the techniques of creativity and craft to produce a chapter or paper for submission to supervisor, journal, or examiner. Students examine and practice a technique for generating a creative draft whose writing flows and that saves time, seeing how to develop this creative draft into a submission draft. This includes: • reviewing the essential elements of citing and referencing • reviewing the essential elements of punctuation and grammatical structure, including common errors to avoid • analysing the elements of a clear and effective academic writing style • understanding the skills of producing such a style Students then practise transforming samples of both the writing of others and their own writing into a clear and effective submission draft.
To equip students with the full range of writing skills necessary for their academic work, and their future careers.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
The training is of interest to students at all stages of their career. There are no pre-requisites for engagement.
Tutorials are run on a 1-2-1 basis with the tutor. Research Student Workshops are run for groups of 20 students.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
Students benefit from engagement with professional authors in a variety of settings and using a variety of approaches. Training is conducted via one-to-one sessions, and group workshops, allowing for a range of experience. Registration numbers and waiting lists are monitored to analyse demand. Feedback from students and course tutors informs the provision and allows impact to be measured. This provision articulates well with the Graduate School’s other offerings in this area, including: • Thesis Writing - for Research Students Whose First Language is Not English • Writing for your Thesis Programme • “Your PhD” 3-part Programme for research students Comments from recent attendees at the RLF workshops include: "Some really useful life techniques, not just applicable to writing skills." “This workshop is very useful for those PhD students who want to integrate creativity into their writing. It will also help them to structure and plan a piece of work in a more effective way.”
It has been challenge to successfully integrate the RLF Fellows work into the Skills Development Programme and to raise awareness amongst students and staff of the opportunities offered. Previously, the Fellows had been based in one academic department, and the majority of their work had been with undergraduates. The Graduate School has met the challenge of finding new accommodation for the fellows and encouraged the graduate community to make full use of their services. A significant proportion of the Fellows work is now with graduate students, and this change in emphasis now affords the Fellows themselves a more stimulating working environment.
Please see section 3. for the evolution over the last few years. The provision will continue to evolve in conversation with the Royal Literary Fund, individual RLF Fellows and our research students.