Speaking of Writing: Supervisory Feedback and the Dissertation

  • Anthony ParéEmail author


This chapter draws on writing theory and research to consider the challenging task of supervising doctoral student writing. First, the dissertation is presented as a complex rhetorical act that makes great demands on students and their tutors. Next, data from supervisory sessions are analyzed to identify the patterns of concern in supervisors’ comments. Chief among those concerns are organization and audience: supervisors strive to offer students advice on textual structure and tips about their disciplinary community. Finally, the chapter concludes with a description of practices that supervisors and institutions might adopt to create an environment for writing.


Doctoral Student Academic Writing Discourse Community External Examiner Supervisory Session 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aitchison, C. (2003). Thesis writing circles. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8(2), 97–115.Google Scholar
  2. Aitchison, C. (2009). Writing groups for doctoral education. Studies in Higher Education, 34(8), 905–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aitchison, C. (2010). Learning together to publish: Writing group pedagogies for doctoral publishing. In C. Aitchison, B. Kamler, & A. Lee (Eds.), Publishing pedagogies for the doctorate and beyond (pp. 83–100). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Aitchison, C., & Lee, A. (2006). Research writing: Problems and pedagogies. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 265–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aitchison, C., Kamler, B., & Lee, A. (Eds.). (2010). Publishing pedagogies for the doctorate and beyond. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Amundsen, C., & McAlpine, L. (2009). Learning supervision: Trial by fire? Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(3), 331–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Artemeva, N., & Freedman, A. (Eds.). (2006). Rhetorical genre studies and beyond. Winnipeg: Inkshed Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Bazerman, C. (2009). Genre and cognitive development: Beyond writing to learn. In C. Bazerman, D. Figueiredo, & A. Bonini (Eds.), Genre in a changing world (pp. 279–294). West Lafayette: Parlor and Fort Collins: The WAC Clearinghouse. ( Scholar
  9. Bazerman, C., & Prior, P. (Eds.). (2004). What writing does and how it does it. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Berlin, J. A. (1987). Rhetoric and reality: Writing instruction in American colleges, 1900–1985. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bizzell, P. (1992). Academic discourse and critical consciousness. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  12. Burke, K. (1966). Language as symbolic action. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Caffarella, R. S., & Barnett, B. G. (2000). Teaching doctoral students to become scholarly writers: The importance of giving and receiving critiques. Studies in Higher Education, 25(1), 39–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coe, R., Lingard, L., & Teslenko, T. (Eds.). (2002). The rhetoric and ideology of genre: Strategies for stability and change. Cresskill: Hampton.Google Scholar
  15. Ede, L. (2004). Situating composition: Composition studies and the politics of location. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Giltrow, J. (2002a). Academic writing: Writing and reading in the disciplines (3rd ed.). Peterborough: Broadview.Google Scholar
  18. Giltrow, J. (2002b). Academic reading: Reading and writing in the disciplines (2nd ed.). Peterborough: Broadview.Google Scholar
  19. Green, B. (2005). Unfinished business: Subjectivity and supervision. Higher Education Research and Development, 24(2), 151–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gross, A. G. (1990). The rhetoric of science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gross, A. G. (2006). Starring the test: The place of rhetoric in science studies. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hall, S. (1996). Introduction: Who needs “identity”? In S. Hall & P. du Gay (Eds.), Questions of cultural identity (pp. 1–17). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Harris, J. (1997a). A teaching subject: Composition since 1966. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Harris, R. A. (1997b). Introduction. In R. A. Harris (Ed.), Landmark essays on rhetoric of science: Case studies. Mahwah: Hermagoras.Google Scholar
  25. Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary discourses: Social interactions in academic writing. Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2004). Driven to abstraction: Doctoral supervision and writing pedagogies. Teaching in Higher Education, 9(2), 195–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2006). Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Lundell, D. B., & Beach, R. (2002). Dissertation writers’ negotiations with competing activity systems. In C. Bazerman & D. Russell (Eds.), Writing selves/writing societies: Research from activity perspectives (pp. 483–514). Fort Collins: The WAC Clearinghouse and Mind, Culture, and Activity. (
  29. Paré, A. (1991). Ushering “audience” out: From oration to conversation. Textual Studies in Canada, 1(1), 45–64.Google Scholar
  30. Paré, A., Starke-Meyerring, D., & McAlpine, L. (2009). The dissertation as multi-genre: Many readers, many readings. In C. Bazerman, D. Figueiredo, & A. Bonini (Eds.), Genre in a changing world (pp. 179–193). West Lafayette: Parlor Press and Fort Collins: The WAC Clearinghouse. (
  31. Park, D. (1982). The meanings of “audience.” College English, 44, 247–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parry, S. (1998). Disciplinary discourse in doctoral theses. Higher Education, 36, 273–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Porter, J. (1992). Audience and rhetoric: An archaeological composition of the discourse community. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  34. Prior, P. (1998). Writing/disciplinarity: A sociohistoric account of literate activity in the academy. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Rose, M., & McClafferty, K. A. (2001). A call for the teaching of writing in graduate education. Educational Researcher, 30(2), 27–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rosenbaum, D. A., Augustyn, J. S., Cohen R. G., & Jax. S. A. (2006). Perceptual-motor expertise. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich, & R. R. Hoffman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 505–520). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Russell, David R. (1991). Writing in the academic disciplines 1870–1990: A curricular history. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Starke-Meyerring, D., Paré, A., Graves, H., Graves, R., El-Bezre, N., & Sun, K. Y. (2009, May). Under new pressures? Practices, policies, and perceptions of doctoral writing at Canadian G13 universities. Presentation at the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing, Ottawa.Google Scholar
  39. Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations