East Coast Writing Retreat a success!

Back in May, ASTRO 3D held its first Writing Retreat, hosted at the School of Physics, UNSW Sydney. The Retreat was designed to provide an exceptional opportunity for ASTRO 3D members to focus on writing an academic paper in the supportive company of peers from across the country.

The rationale behind a ‘retreat’ model of writing workshop is that helps our members to:

  • develop a collegial network across the Centre of Excellence;
  • become comfortable in a peer-supported culture of academic writing;
  • affirm their identity as a research scientist who seeks to communicate their findings; and
  • share knowledge, practices and experiences related to writing and publishing.

During this Retreat participants were able to:

  • sequester five days in which to focus completely on research productivity through writing
    (with 25 hours dedicated to individual writing time);
  • identify and work towards their own specific writing goals within a mutually supportive writing
    culture and community of peers;
  • reflect on, articulate, and share effective and productive writing and research communication
    practices;
  • share knowledge on publication avenues, practices and opportunities;
  • stretch themselves with new approaches through specialised workshops on creativity, reflection,
    science communication and productivity (with a bonus for research students and early career
    academics of personalised support on taking care of themselves and their careers); and
  • create an environment conducive to exploring interests and research across ASTRO 3D.

This five-day slice out of usually busy workplaces was just the thing to get the writing juices flowing:

“Quite productive and very satisfied about my progress on my paper. Before the retreat I had nothing…”

“These retreats are absolutely brilliant for finishing those difficult papers that otherwise would not be written. Best use of my time by far!”

“Definitely more productive as I had the space to fill my brain with the science for the whole week which helped when writing.”

The Retreat included writing time in groups and as individuals, as well as guest speakers and workshops with Beth Beckmann (Australian National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education
Academy), Marina Harvey (Director of Academic Development Services UNSW), Carol Oliver (Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, UNSW), Jessica Frawley (lecturer in Academic Development & Leadership, University of Sydney, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy) and Kieran Vaughan (independent counsellor) all providing valuable insight, training and facilitation.

“I wasn’t particularly looking forward to taking an hour out [for a science communication workshop], but it was the exact advice I needed to frame the narrative of the discussion I was writing.”

“I enjoyed the retreat and thought the division between writing and talks was perfect. The Facilitator was very approachable and friendly.”

One of the most important aspects of the Retreat was getting to know others in ASTRO 3D and peer review:

“I definitely feel more connected to the larger science goals of ASTRO 3D and to individual researchers at all levels.”

“My favourite parts were getting to meet other people and getting useful tips on my career.”

“My peer review group was extremely helpful in getting me to connect my goals for the paper to its structure, and in developing an effective structure.”

We can’t wait to see what exciting papers are published as a result of this week of intensive writing and learning! 

“My first writing retreat…I am (now) a believer! Will take this (concept) back to my group.”