The expectations of graduate students and tenure-track professors are high. Given the competitiveness of the academic job market, graduate students feel more pressure than ever to publish while simultaneously trying to teach courses and navigate their work in the research lab.
Tenure-track faculty are often teaching multiple courses, sometimes for the first time, navigating committees, peer-reviewing, and other forms of service, advising graduate and undergraduate students, and trying to meet high publication and grant expectations. The transition from dissertation writing or postdoctoral research with its focus on constant research and writing to the juggling act of a tenure track professor can be overwhelming, and early career faculty often have little mentoring around how to manage all of their new responsibilities. One of the first things to fall by the wayside in the constant barrage of emails, requests, and responsibilities of new faculty members is their writing. This is to be expected; new faculty are used to having significant periods of uninterrupted time to pursue their scholarship, and the tenure-track rarely allows for these kinds of time. Once tenured, service commitments increase, and protected time to write is even harder to identify.
An effective intervention for graduate students and faculty members are academic writing retreats. Academic writing retreats can positively impact not only scholarly writing output, but importantly, the participant’s writing practice can improve even after the retreat is over. In an integrative review of 13 studies evaluating the effectiveness of academic writing retreats (Kornhaber, Cross, Betihavas, & Bridgman, 2016) benefits included:
- Increased productivity as measured by submitted grants and manuscripts
- Enhanced motivation to write
- Increased writing confidence
- Higher satisfaction with the publication process
- Greater post-retreat integration of a regular writing practice into everyday life
- Sense of achievement post-retreat
- Increased post-retreat pleasure, purpose, and productivity with regard to writing
The most effective retreats create protected, distraction-free environments for writing. Retreats held off-campus at sanctuary-like spaces that are serene and free from the distractions of the campus environment are ideal. By bringing people together to focus on writing, retreats also create a safe space for peer-support around writing and build new relationships among participants that can foster post-retreat writing productivity and support.
Contact Claire for more information about campus sponsored writing retreats.