FOR SUPPORT, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PRODUCTIVITY
All retreats are guided and supported by experienced facilitators.
0845 - 1515
1800 - 2100
0845 - 1515
0845 - 1515
Please book below to secure a place
VWR is working towards developing research that investigates:
1) How does VWR assist the PhD process?
2) How does VWR maintain wellbeing?
3) How effective is VWR?
Please email us at email@example.com if you would like to be involved in shaping this research.
Cat Aitken founded Virtual Writing Retreat (VWR), in September 2019 as a tool to hold her accountable to PhD. Through the management pathway at the University of Glasgow, Cat’s research investigates the varying degrees of hybridity in social enterprise & the impact on sustainability. In particular she is interested in the diversity of the sector & the influence of context. Cat won her PhD funding through the open competition at the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) & will submit her PhD in the next 12 months.
Cat worked as a Research Assistant at Heriot-Watt University in 2018/2019. In this role she evaluated the readiness of start-up social enterprise for scale and replication & produced a report for the social innovation fund partnership. This led to a teaching post where she taught on various modules on the International Business Management degrees, supervised UG dissertations and organised a global postgraduate module. Cat's second piece of research outside her PhD identifies the characteristics of rural & remote social enterprise in Scotland. You can read more about this research on rural social enterprise hub.
Prior to pursuing an academic career Cat worked in community education & worked with young people from areas of deprivation . This is where her sense of community was established. In her spare time she likes to ride her motorcycle & walk her huge dogs.
Cats vision for VWR in a broader sense is to tackle education inequality by offering free retreats to low income students.
"I created VWR because I wanted to hold myself accountable to PhD. I had chosen to undertake my PhD at distance & that meant I was not embedded into a research community. For that reason, it was very easy to become disillusioned & disengaged with the process. In 2019, online academic retreats simply did not exist, so in response, I created VWR. Initially the motive was accountability, but it became something more. It gave me a sense of belonging and it grew my self belief. The support generated by the community was a game changer for my PhD & wellbeing".
Cat facilitates, Monday, 0845 - 1515 & Sunday (bi monthly), 0930 - 1315
You can follow her on twitter: @cataitken
Dr Maja Brandt Andreasen is a researcher of feminist media studies, specialising in social media, internet memes, rape culture, and humour. She finished her PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Strathclyde in March 2020 after successfully completing her Viva over Zoom. Her PhD thesis investigates rape culture in humorous internet memes about #MeToo. Next to her PhD, Maja has taught courses in Gender Studies, Media Studies and Journalism at the universities of Strathclyde and Stirling. She also supervises undergraduate and MLitt dissertations.
Maja currently works as a research associate on the CILIA LGBTQI+ project at Strathclyde: Comparing Intersectional Lifecourse (In)equlities Among LGBTQI+ people in Scotland.
Maja is originally from Denmark but lived in Amsterdam for five years before she moved to Glasgow to pursue her PhD. She is an enthusiastic home cook and foodie with a secret passion for crime shows and musicals.
"I joined VWR at a point where I was juggling a lot of different tasks. I was preparing for my Viva, teaching, supervising dissertations and writing endless job applications. At the same time, I was struggling to find time to write the first journal article based on my PhD research. VWR enabled me to focus on those few days I could dedicate to writing. Since then I have used the VWR as a community to help structure my days and find support from people who understand the struggles of a PhD and academic life. I decided to become a facilitator to give back to the community and because it’s honestly a pleasure".
You can follow Maja on twitter: @MajaBAndreasen1
Maja facilitates on Wednesdays, 0845 - 1515
Hilary Causer is a qualitative and mixed-methods researcher. Her research interests include suicidology and postvention, mental health and wellbeing, and workplace culture and wellbeing. Hilary was awarded her PhD from the University of Worcester following her Viva in December 2020. Her thesis explored the experiences of staff members in two United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions following a student death by suicide.
Alongside her studies, Hilary was a founding member of the University of Worcester Staff Mental Health Network and worked alongside the University of Worcester Research School to develop improved routes to mental health information and support for PGR students.
Hilary is currently authoring a book chapter and two academic papers reporting the findings of her research. In addition, she is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Prior to undertaking a PhD Hilary worked in social care and mental health settings within the public and third sectors with children, young people and their families.
To take time away from the screen Hilary enjoys hillwalking, photography and quilt-making.
“I first came to VWR in April 2020. During the early weeks of lockdown, with a thesis to write, I was in search of some structure to shape my days and a way to hold myself accountable. What I also found was a welcoming and friendly community of PhD and ECR academics who offered encouragement, support, and kindness. I quickly became a community regular and when the opportunity arose to become a retreat facilitator it was easy to say ‘yes please!’ I wholeheartedly believe that VWR played a crucial part in enabling me to write and submit my thesis, during a pandemic, ahead of my deadline.”
You can follow Hilary on twitter: @HilaryCauser
Hilary facilitates on Fridays, 0845 - 1515
Helen Spencer is in her final write-up year of her part-time PhD in Psychology at Newcastle University, investigating the use of case formulation in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of psychosis. Alongside her part-time PhD, Helen works part-time as a Higher Research Assistant at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
Helen has published 2 of her PhD studies in peer-reviewed journals, and has co-authored over 20 publications on the subject of CBT for psychosis. In addition to this, Helen has written a book chapter and co-edited a CBT for psychosis book for service users and carers (published by Cambridge University Press). Helen is an expert in teaching CBT for psychosis to mental health professionals and family members and has taught on both a national and international level, including having taught in Australia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark. Helen also acts as a peer reviewer for several academic journals.
To switch off from work, Helen enjoys watching Netflix documentaries, and reading about criminology, parapsychology, and aesthetic treatments.
“I joined VWR at a time when I had barely written any of my PhD and I was struggling with chronic perfectionism, procrastination, and overwhelming thoughts when it came to writing my PhD. Reading ‘turbocharge your writing’ by Maria Gardiner & Hugh Kearns (2018) I learned that “snack writing” - writing little and often - and setting specific times to write (even when you don’t feel ‘in the mood’ for writing), can help to double or triple your output. So, signing up to virtual writing retreats sounded like a good idea, and this changed everything. In lockdown I wrote one of my PhD publications, a 20k word thesis chapter, and I completed the analysis of my qualitative study. The sense of community and accountability in VWR has made me more productive, confident about my writing ability, and has banished the sense of loneliness that is so often associated with the PhD experience. Thanks to VWR I no longer procrastinate when it comes to writing, and my PhD is on track for completion in 2022 ”.
You can follow Helen on twitter: @HelenMSpencer1
Helen facilitates on Tuesday evenings, 1800 -21:15
To maintain our wellbeing during PhD we must be aware of the dangers of the process. No one is immune to PhD struggles and for that reason this poster series has been created to highlight the common pitfalls and to present the best tools to manage difficulties.
Created by Dr Zoe Ayres: a mental health advocate and R&D scientist. https://www.zjayres.com/
VWR can help you to create small manageable goals and help you to overcome feelings of isolation and guilt, by connecting you to a supportive community of scholars who together work on shared schedule.
1-2 hour chunks of writing with regular breaks - this process will be guided and supported by a VWR facilitator who will keep you on track.
Gift Cards for those who care about their research buddies!
For PI's who want to support their students!
For Institutions who care about their cohort's wellbeing.
Buy them the gift of support & community!
£3 - 1 day
£39 - 4 weeks
£117 - 3 months
We are a not-for-profit service and rely on donations to deliver social good. Your contributions will enable us to keep providing support to those in need and widen our capacity during COVID-19. Your generous donation will fund our mission. Thank you.
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