Creating safe spaces to discuss work in progress

 A select few of us met today to discuss  Adeela Shafi and Jo Rose‘s paper in progress entitled: Restrictions into opportunities: How boundaries in the life course can shape educational pathways.

Students on the part-time BA in English Literature and Community EngagementThe paper raises a number of interesting issues related to mature students attending university and the relationship between the ‘restrictions’ they have experienced in their learning trajectories, experiences and histories. Adeela and Jo want to make the point that in later life these restrictions can be ‘re-seen’ and become opportunities instead.

We spent an hour talking through the paper together, identifying the key arguments and how they might best be presented, our different (interdisciplinary) take on the issues and literature and discussing the strengths of the paper as well as how it might be improved. We were also able to share our own experiences of writing, techniques to improve academic writing and the sometimes stressful process of reviewing.

At the end of the session we talked briefly about our perspective on the usefulness of this kind of session. Everybody present felt that although initially nerve wracking (for the authors putting their work ‘out there’) we had all gained something from the process of discussion. It was felt that it was important that the space we created was non confrontational and that the encounter built a collegial space that enabled deeper reflection, interdisciplinary sharing and critical engagement with the ideas in the paper.

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One thought on “Creating safe spaces to discuss work in progress

  1. As the second author of the paper, I found this session so helpful and really enjoyable. When we are writing, we get so immersed in the topic that sometimes it is hard to see the wood for the trees. This work in progress session gave us the luxury of several fresh pairs of eyes on our paper. The resultant feedback and discussions supported and allowed us to reflect on what we actually wanted to say in the paper and the thread of our argument, and to draw parallels with other work. At the risk of sounding cliched – it is a massive privilege to work with such positive and supportive colleagues and to have the luxury of a group of people focussing on our own work with the sole purpose of improving it! I was very apprehensive about sharing my work with people beforehand – it feels very scary letting other people see your work in progress – but I would so do this again! Thank you for being great colleagues!

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