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Doctoral writing: Learning to write and review across cultures in an international environment

Wednesday 3 July: 5:30pm – 7:00pm, poster session



Associate Professor Susan Carter
University of Auckland, New Zealand



Our research approaches several challenges for academics who support doctoral writing. How do you teach international candidates to write so that readers can follow their prose smoothly? How do you teach them how to demonstrate critical thinking when writing? And if you set up peer review, how do you teach doctoral students to do this constructively, but with the rigour needed to raise writing quality? How do you work in that curious fog where kindness, warmth and good humour establish a doctoral community of practice within departments or schools, when at the same time sharp-edged clarity is often needed for peer review? We work together on these issues in a novel triad (two doctoral candidates and their supervisor) whose goal was to dissect writing for the purpose of teaching and learning.

We report on an unusual approach that sits between the doctoral writing group (Aitchison & Guerin, 2014) and the individual supervision meeting (Benmore, 2014): writing review with supervisor, two doctoral candidates and their writing. The candidates are both researching how to teach writing across cultures, so, with researcher interest, they stepped in to analyse the learning work and theorise it. Cultural identity theory (Sung, 2014) lets us see that second language (L2) writing provides opportunities to reform identities (Zhang, 2013). The original self of the writer’s native language is not displayed in their L2 writing. Instead, a new self needs to be developed in their L2 writing (Shen, 1989). We describe the teaching and learning process with data drawn from reflection and critique of our own practice from three different perspectives.



Aitchison, C., & Guerin, C. (Eds.). (2014). Writing Groups for Doctoral Education and Beyond: Innovations in Theory and Practice. London and New York: Routledge.
Benmore, A. (2014). Boundary management in doctoral supervision: How supervisors negitate roles and role transitions throughout the supervisory journey. Studies in Higher Education 10.1080/03075079.3014.967203
Shen, F. (1989). The classroom and the wider culture: Identity as a key to learning English composition. College Composition and Communication, 40(4), 459-466.
Sung, Ko-Yin. (2014). Identities, values and beliefs: listening to a Chinese teacher’s narratives. In Ma Wen (Ed.), East meets west in teacher preparation: crossing Chinese and American borders (pp. 54-63). NY: Teachers college press.
Zhang, L. J. (2013). Second language writing as and for second language learning. Journal of Second Language Writing, 22(4), 446-447.


Presentation topic

Poster session

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