The loneliness of a long-distance critical realist student: the story of a doctoral writing group

Catherine Hastings, Angela Davenport, Karen Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


As doctoral students from New Zealand and Australia, advised by supervision teams with a diversity of critical realist experience from limited to none, we came independently to the 2018 Critical Realism conference – primed to seek increased understanding, confidence, motivation, and reassurance. We certainly found these things from the pre-conference, presentations, and individuals within the critical realist community. We also found each other, and a virtual writing group was born. This article is a description of what we did, why, and the outcomes we experienced over the final two years completing our theses. It identifies the structures, contexts, motivations, and mechanisms from which our emotional, critical realist and writing-related outcomes emerged. We outline the roles of serendipitous timing, culture, different disciplinary approaches, administrative structures, and types of interactions on the social learning we developed. We anchor our discussion in recent theoretical literature about the role of writing groups in doctoral education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Issue number1
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Publisher 2021. Accepted Author Manuscript version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • critical realism
  • doctoral writing
  • social learning
  • writing group


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