Finding a Voice: Writing Narrative in the Early Stages of a Doctoral Thesis


  • Simon Williams University of Sussex



This study applies Ivanic’s (2004) extension of Lea and Street’s (1998) model of approaches to the teaching of writing, to a body of student texts produced over a six-month period. Its purpose is to assess the impact of different kinds of feedback on iterative samples of academic writing. However, rather than analysing the texts of a number of different student writers, it examines different texts produced by the same writer. Using extracts from one early-career research student’s writing, supervisor notes and email messages, it argues that actual writers may continue to need and demand engagement in a variety of pedagogic practices on their way to developing their own voice. The possibility of inconsistent development with occasional lapses is accepted, with progress through Ivanic’s model being seen not in a developmental Piagetian way, but through a Vygotskian process of socialisation. In this sense, the position adopted is social constructionist. In particular, writers’ production of narrative around their research topic in the form of creative writing – one of Ivanic’s additions to the discourses in the Lea and Street model – may provide useful stimulus material (e.g. Clandinin and Connelly 2000: 41); and the application of Hatton and Smith’s (1995) framework of levels of reflection to the outcome may provide an indication of the timeliness of Ivanic’s other teaching approaches.

Author Biography

Simon Williams, University of Sussex

Simon Williams is a Tutorial Fellow at the Sussex Centre for Language Studies. His research interests include academic writing, mobile applications in language learning, and Personal Construct Theory.




How to Cite

Williams, S. (2012). Finding a Voice: Writing Narrative in the Early Stages of a Doctoral Thesis. Journal of Academic Writing, 2(1), 24–34.