Fifteen students, from across all disciplines, participated in Kansas State University’s inaugural week-long Dissertation Writing Retreat during the May Intersession. The Writing Center, with sponsorship from the English Department, Graduate School, K-State Libraries, and the Offices of the Provost and the Senior Vice President, hosted the retreat. Participants wrote for five hours daily, reflected on personal goals, and communicated with peers about progress being made towards their dissertation. In addition, Center staff met daily with individuals to provide feedback and encouragement.
Participants were offered optional workshops on utilizing the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDR) template, working with citation managers, and writing with style; they also had the chance to attend daily yoga.
The Writing Retreat’s main goals were to:
Give doctoral candidates time and space to concentrate on writing, free from any distractions.
Expose participants to strong writing practices and help them develop a more disciplined approach to writing their dissertation during and also after the Retreat. Examples include resisting the impulse to binge write instead of writing daily.
Form support networks with other writers across campus, so that they could continue writing with each other once the Retreat concluded.
“Our participants produced about 250 pages of writing during the week and even more writing in the form of graphs, tables, revisions and citations,” said Cydney Alexis, director of The Writing Center. “One participant produced a rough draft of an entire 25-page chapter.”
“The Retreat allowed us to step out of our normal busy lives, which offer plenty of excuses to not commit full days toward dissertating,” said Edward Green, doctoral candidate in sociology.
“The Retreat provided a great atmosphere for those looking to make significant progress on their dissertation. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to accomplish throughout the week,” said Erin Schwandt, doctoral candidate in animal sciences.
“It was very helpful and productive,” said Muluken Muche, doctoral candidate in biological and agricultural engineering. “It really gave me a chance to assess the overall dissertation flow and gave a confidence to fix a tentative time to finish my dissertation.”
Since the retreat was such a success, the Center and the Graduate School are planning on offering future retreats, which will be announced in K-State Today and on the school’s website.