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Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS): Research Students

How CLaSS works with research students

CLaSS lecturers offer bespoke support for students conducting independent research:

  • One-to-one tutorials - CLaSS Lecturers can provide strategies and resources to help review your academic writing. Please follow this link for information about our standard tutorial provision and booking system. Upon request, research students may also be offered extended (50-minute) slots. Please email Arina Cirstea ( if you wish to book an extended tutorial.
  • Writing Group for Research Students (see details below)
  • DMU Writing Circle (see details below)

You may also want to explore:

  • Our range of Open Programme Workshops
  • Our range of Online Resources  on the CLaSS website. Also, please check below for a suite of resources specifically targeted at doctoral researchers. 

Writing Group for Research Students

The Writing Group for Research Students is a small, informal group that meets on a monthly basis to discuss topics related to writing at doctoral level. Whether you've only just started your research or are in the writing up stages, all research students are welcome. We're always looking for new members, so please do come along to see what we do.

Our meetings for 22/23 will take place live online via Teams. More details will be added in advance of each meeting:

  • Week 1, 6 October 2022, 10-12 How to write when you don’t want to write

In the first meeting of the year, we invited participants to a discussion on the experience of trying to write when you don’t want to write.  We shared ideas and considered a range of strategies for managing procrastination and overcoming ‘writer’s block’.

  • Week 6, 10 November 2022, 10-12 Writing Introductions

In this workshop, we discussed some strategies to structure an introduction. These strategies could be useful for shaping the Introduction chapter of your thesis, but also for developing introductory sections to shorter research papers, such as reviews or journal articles.

  • Week 10, 8 December 2022, 10-12 Researching and managing resources for your literature review

At doctoral level, it’s important to keep the many resources that you rely on organised. This session demonstrated the value of using reference management software to do this. We explored one such software, RefWorks. RefWorks allows you to create a database of sources imported from online search engines such as the DMU Library’s Search Resources, databases and websites, and organise those sources into folders. We also looked at how you can use the database you’ve created to generate your bibliographies.

  • Week 15, 12 January 2023, 10-12 Critical Thinking: Evaluating sources and dealing with confirmation bias

Information has never been so abundant or easy to find, but this brings with it new problems. How do you decide whether something is appropriate to use in your doctoral thesis? This workshop will discuss some strategies you can use to critically evaluate sources of information so you can be sure you are using and referencing suitable research. We’ll also look at how confirmation bias affects our thought processes and consider some of the ways we can minimise its effects, highlighting why it is important to do so. 

  • Week 20, 16 February 2023, 10-12 Critical writing: voice and argument

This workshop will discuss and illustrate some practical techniques for articulating your voice and building an argument in your thesis.

  • Week 24, 16 March 2023, 10-12 Writing up your Results chapter (a reflection on qualitative research)

In this session Dr. Zara Hooley will share how she moved from coded interview scripts through to results and discussion chapters in her own qualitative PhD. Zara combined results and discussion into thematically organised chapters. This session is of particular interest to anyone considering this approach, however all are welcome. Please feel free to bring along your own work and ideas to share. The session will begin with a short presentation but will be followed by an activity and discussion. 

  • Week 29, 20 April 2023, 10-12 Working with your supervisory team on improving your writing

In this meeting, we will consider different approaches to working with your supervisory team to improve your doctoral writing. We’ll also discuss some strategies to interpret, evaluate and implement feedback received from your supervisors on various features of your writing.

  • Week 32, 11 May 2023, 10-12 Editing and proof reading techniques
  • Week 36, 8 June 2023, 10-12 Dealing with feedback
  • Week 41, 13 July 2023, 10-12 Summer reflection

In some of our meetings, participants are invited to take part in a peer review activity. To receive feedback on a sample of your writing from the presenters as well as fellow participants, please email a short draft (no more than 2 pages) to the organiser in advance of the workshop. We encourage everyone to take part, even if you do not want feedback on your own writing.

The Writing Group for Research Students has a dedicated Teams community space where you can receive communication about future meetings, access resources from previous sessions or simply chat. For more details and/or to join our meetings or Teams community, please email Arina Cirstea (


Doctoral Writing Resources

There are a wealth of excellent online resources, books and blogs on academic writing, geared towards doctoral students. Some good examples include:

  • The Thesis Whisperer. A website with a wide range of contributors, edited by Dr Inger Mewburn
  • The Writer's Diet: Helen Sword's website on stylish and productive academic writing
  • Patter: Pat Thomson's blog on academic writing

Past events

Please follow the links to access resources from Academic Writing Day: Develop your confidence as a writer and Academic Writing Day 2: Strategies to develop your manuscript for journal publication.

DMU Writing Circle


What is it?

The Writing Circle offers DMU staff and Postgraduate Research Students the time and space to write independently alongside others online. The Writing Circle is organised in a collaboration between the Centre of Academic Innovation and Teaching Excellence, The Doctoral College, and Library and Learning Services.

Who is it for?

The Writing Circle is open to all current DMU Postgraduate Research Students (e.g. PhD candidates), and all current DMU staff (academic and professional services staff are welcome).

What happens in a Writing Circle session?

The Writing Circle is primarily a space to get writing done, so most of the time will be spend actually writing. We make use of the ‘pomodoro technique’, which involves focused writing in 25 minute blocks, followed by 5 minutes rest to chat, and then another 25 minute pomodoro. The first part of the session is usually devoted to meeting/greeting one another, sharing our writing goals and any progress we have made, and/or any barriers we are facing. From this, we often take the opportunity to share experiences, offer tips and advice, or simply listen to one another. The Writing Circle is a practical, supportive environment. Depending on how far-ranging our discussion is, we will typically manage time for two or three ‘pomodoros’.

Many participants use the regular, social aspect of the Writing Circle to help structure their time outside the Circle, setting goals and making plans for writing accordingly.

We also acknowledge that while many of us are aiming to write for publication, quite often our writing is not based around our research but around our teaching and/or administrative responsibilities. All writing is accepted (even creative writing), and we are especially keen to invite professional services staff who may want to come along.

Where is it?

From October 2022, the Writing Circle sessions will be HYBRID online/face-to-face. We will meet online via MS Teams (accessible to all members of the Writing Circle – see below) and we will also meet face-to-face in Gateway House GH3.31, which is the teaching room in the Doctoral College.

When is it?

The Writing Circle meets every two weeks in term time, alternating between Mondays and Fridays, usually from 2-4pm.

How do I join the Writing Circle?

Anyone eligible (i.e. current DMU research students and/or DMU staff) who wishes to join the Writing Circle should send an email to Jason Eyre ( or click here to get the Team invite. You will then be added to the Circle (MS Team), enabling you to join the online sessions and receive notifications and updates via Teams.

Visit the Writing Communities website for more information about writing communities for staff, researchers and students at DMU.

Proofreading for Research Students

Research Students often enquire about proofreading support.

The research degree regulations at DMU (section 14.3) allow for "limited assistance with proof reading... with the prior approval of the supervisor". The role of a professional proofreader is limited to correcting "spelling, grammar and punctuation accuracy", but otherwise it is vital that the document is the student's own work.

The CLaSS Proofreading for Grammar Toolkit offers useful advice on developing your own proofreading strategies.