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Academic writing development of master’s thesis pair writers: The impact of negotiating and assigning writerly identities

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Writing a master’s thesis in groups or pairs has been possible for many years in Danish universities, and the use of this possibility varies greatly across universities and educational programmes. However, in recent years some programmes have seen a steep increase in the number of students writing in pairs - in one faculty a 300% rise in three years (Nordentoft et al., 2020). This change is at least partly the result of Higher Education reforms, a renewed focus on streamlining the master’s thesis process and a rise in collective supervision formats. Research on thesis writing in groups does exist, but little is known about writing a master’s thesis in pairs. How does writing in pairs affect the students’ development as academic writers? How do pair-writers experience and needs differ from those of individual or group writers? To support pair-writers, both master’s thesis supervisors and academic writing support need more knowledge about their writing process. Data consist of joint reflections of four master’s thesis writing pairs (8 students). Each pair recorded reflections guided by a set of reflective questions three times during their thesis writing process. A total of 11 joint reflections was recorded and transcribed. This data was then coded thematically using grounded theory methods (Charmaz, 2006) and the constructed themes informed a discourse analysis of the material (Laclau & Mouffe, 2001). The findings suggest that master’s thesis pair-writers build on prior friendship and early on negotiate and assign fixed writerly identities (Ivanič, 1998). These identities seem to serve as a way of creating boundaries and build trust, allowing the students to write in shared documents, give each other feedback and revise each other’s text. This strategy seems to enable the students to write together but can also act as a constraint in their individual development as academic writers.
Udgivelsesårjul. 2021
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2021
BegivenhedEATAW 2021 11th Conference of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing: The Residence of writing and writing support - VSB- Technical University of Ostrava (online), Ostrava, Tjekkiet
Varighed: 7 jul. 20218 jul. 2021


KonferenceEATAW 2021 11th Conference of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing
LokationVSB- Technical University of Ostrava (online)


  • Academic writing, Writerly identities, Writing in pairs, MA thesis, Higher edducation, Grounded theory method

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