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Dissertation Writing Retreat

The Dissertation Writing Retreat provides participants with space, time, and encouragement to make progress on their doctoral dissertations in the company of other writers.The retreat is made possible with the resources and support of the Graduate School, Sheridan Center, and Libraries, and is lead by the Associate Director of the Writing Center, Stacy Kastner.   

The retreat stems from a Graduate Student Council (GSC) request to the Graduate School for increased writing support at the Center, beyond one-on-one 60-minute conferences.

Here’s what some participants of the January 2017 Winter retreat said about their experience:

Why did you decide to join the retreat?

“To jumpstart the end of my thesis writing process and provide myself with uninterrupted blocks of time in which to write surrounded by others.”
– Katherine Larson PhD '17, Biomedical Engineering 

“I needed help to develop writing habits that would help me complete my dissertation in time for my defense...”
– Nicosia Shakes PhD '17, Africana Studies

How did the retreat help you achieve your writing goals?

“The retreat provided fantastic structure and support, from basic things like building in moments of goal setting and reflection into my writing process and scheduling set hours of uninterrupted work time, to creating a community of writers within whom I could discuss the unique challenges of writing a dissertation and the universal challenges of writing often, well, and with joy.”
– Emily Contois, PhD student in American Studies

What's a useful tip you learned from the retreat.

“Productive writers stick to a schedule!”
– Emily Monty, PhD student in History of Art & Architecture

What were some highlights from the retreat?

“Unlimited coffee.”
– Jacqueline McCleary, PhD student in Physics

“. . .the motivation I got from seeing how disciplined all of us were. It helped that we were holding each other accountable in a non-authoritarian way.”
– Nicosia Shakes PhD '17, Africana Studies

When: Monday, July 16 - Friday, July 20 | 9:30 am - 4:00 pm 

Who can participate?
All doctoral students who are in the process of writing their dissertations, that is students who have had their dissertation proposals accepted and have sufficient research completed and/or data collected to proceed with writing.

What is the format?
Participants will meet in the morning to set writing goals over coffee and tea, spend two hours writing, and then break for an informal lunch talk, hearing advice and anecdotes about how to successfully navigate the dissertation writing process. In the afternoon, they will spend three hours writing, with one-on-one support available from Writing Associates and Research Librarians, and then close the day by regrouping to check-in about writing goals and to celebrate progress made.

Where: Science Library, 5th Floor

Register now. Please register early as space is limited. The retreat can host up to 20 participants. 

Dissertation Retreat participants are expected to

  • Attend all five days of the retreat (9:30am - 4:00pm, Mon.-Fri.) and participate in all morning and afternoon group meetings.
  • Bring a laptop and any books, articles, and other materials needed for writing. If music stimulates writing productivity, bring and use your headphones.
  • Take breaks as needed.
  • Agree to turn off or silence cell phone and other noise-making devices.
  • Keep what happens during the retreat at the retreat.

Questions? Contact: Pamela Gaddi, Manager of Student Development, Graduate School