Writer development Course


Communication skills

Target group

PhD students from any discipline at any stage of completion can take value from the course: those early on in their studies can establish good habits from the outset, and those closer to completion can refresh or reconceptualise skills, giving them a boost in the final sprint. Having an interdisciplinary group underlines the commonalities of all researchers and their writing, regardless of disciplinary difference. This creates a broad community that can enhance everyone’s practice.


Dr. Sarah Haas undertook her PhD studies at Aston University in England. Her research focused on Writer Development (mainly applied linguistics, but also drawing on didactics and educational psychology). She teaches writing, and facilitates writer development workshops in Belgium, England, Denmark, Japan and the US. Dr. Haas has over 18 years of experience supporting research writers. She conducts practitioner-based research that aims to further improve the teaching of academic writing, and the facilitating of writer development.


The course alternates between input sessions and working sessions. The input sessions take the form of interactive workshops on topics relevant to managing writing, the writing process, and academic communication. The working sessions give participants the opportunity to immediately put the theory into productive practice. Thus, by the end of the course they will have already started establishing good writing habits that can serve them well not only throughout the PhD, but in any future writing situation. Input sessions include:

  • Taking control over distractions that keep one from writing; Keeping focused and staying working
  • Setting realistic writing goals, and increasing productivity; Setting up and maintaining successful writers’ groups
  • Writer-centred text vs reader-centred text; Giving/receiving feedback on scientific output (abstracts)
  • Understanding individual writing processes; Using understanding to take control and optimise
  • Keeping a writers’ log and using it to increase productivity

This course complements existing academic writing courses by emphasising learning the process of academic writing (while not ignoring the product). It also focuses on the writer , not only on the process or product of writing. The teaching philosophy is guided discovery, which starts from the points of the expertise that the participants bring with them to the course, and then takes them further. The non- hierarchical method shows the participants that they are taken seriously as research writers, and thus leads them to create their own sense of initiative and responsibility.


This course starts from points of recognition that learning how to be an academic writer is not something that happens automatically, and that each writer is different. While theoretical material is introduced, the main goal is that participants use it to refine and develop their existing knowledge. By the end of the course participants will have

  • developed a greater understanding of their own individual writing processes, and will be able to use this understanding to build sets of tools to help them increase writing productivity and decrease the stress associated with doctoral writing.
  • learned how to set and keep realistic writing goals by protecting time for writing and maintaining focus
  • created communities of writers to help sustain good habits started on the course, ensuring lasting benefits
  • practiced a simple yet effective way to look at text (their own and others’) and judge whether or not it is of the quality and standard necessary for PhD writing

Time and Venue

Course code Date Time Venue
WDC-2324-01 25 and 26 September and 7 November 2023 09:00-16:00

25/09: Leslokaal 1.2, Campus Ledeganck

26/09: Leslokaal 1.1, Campus Ledeganck

7/11: Leslokaal 2.1, Campus Tweekerken

WDC-2324-02 2 and 3 October and 8 November 2023 09:00-16:00

2/10: Leslokaal 0.1 Campus Ledeganck

3/10: Lokaal 2.1, Campus Tweekerken

8/11: Leslokaal 1.1, Campus Ledeganck

WDC-2324-05 23 and 24 October 2023 and 10 January 2024 09:00-16:00

23/10: leslokaal 0.3 (Campus Ledeganck) 

24/10: vergaderzaal 1.2 (Campus Ledeganck) 

10/01: leslokaal 1.2 (Campus Ledeganck) 

WDC-2324-03 11 January, 12 January and 21 February 2024  09:00-16:00

Leslokaal 1.1 (Campus Ledeganck)

WDC-2324-04 22 and 23 February and 25 March 2024 09:00-16:00

22/02 + 23/02: Leslokaal 1.1 (Campus Ledeganck)

25/03: Leslokaal 1.3 (Campus Ledeganck)

    Registration fee

    Free of charge for members of the Doctoral Schools of Ghent University. The no show policy applies.

    Registration procedure

    First semester: follow this link to subscribe to the registration or waiting list.

    Second semester: follow this link to subscribe to the registration or waiting list.

    Your registration will be confirmed by separate e-mail from the Doctoral Schools. Cancellation of your registration can only be performed by sending an email to doctoralschools@ugent.be.

    Number of participants

    Maximum 12



    Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

    100% attendance, active participation, keeping a writer’s log, forming and maintaining writers’ groups (must meet at least twice for at least two hours each time between the sessions).

    After successful participation, the Doctoral Schools will add this course to your curriculum of the Doctoral Training Programme in Oasis. Please note that this takes up to one to two months after completion of the course.