‘Permission to write’: Building a community of inter-disciplinary writers


  • Barbara Kensington-Miller University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Susan Carter


academic writing programme; writing support; scholarly writing; feedback; community of practice


Academic writing has been described as enjoyable, terrifying, and hard slog, with many reasons why academics struggle to write. Here, we describe the third iteration of a generic writing programme for academics who wanted to meet the imperative to publish. Using surveys, weekly feedback and our own journals we gathered evidence of the programme’s effectiveness. We developed a structured framework within a community of practice where academics could gain writing acumen and increase confidence, giving themselves permission to write amid conflicting requirements of teaching, research and service. Our data shows the different dimensions of the course that participants experienced as effective, enabling us to anatomise writing support with the precision that facilitators will find helpful. Significantly, we make the case that the social dimension enabled our academics to be productive.

Author Biography

Barbara Kensington-Miller, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Barbara is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education at the University of Auckland. In this role, Barbara works with academics across all disciplines on a variety of teaching and research initiatives.

She has specific responsibility for supporting early-career academics and leads the University of Auckland’s Induction Programme to Teaching and Learning, and a Peer Mentoring Programme for new academics. Barbara lectures on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, and supervises Doctoral and Masters students.

Barbara’s research projects foster and promote teaching and research for early-career academics from a range of cultural and academic backgrounds, and this also extends into the area of identity and threshold concepts. With a background in Mathematics, she is currently researching ways to improve teaching and learning in large undergraduate mathematics lectures, and how this can be transferred to other disciplines.

Barbara is involved in leading a large project with significant government funding on 'Making the Invisible Visible: Illuminating Undergraduate Learning Outcomes Beyond Content and Skills'. This project involves seven different disciplines and employers of graduates in these disciplines.


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Original Research