Basic idea

  • Groups of two or three at about the same stage.
  • Meet weekly with goal of furthering each others’ progress.
  • Emphasise working on product (e.g. samples of writing).


  • Reduces the intellectual and social isolation that can come when doing research studies.
  • Feedback more immediate and frequent leading to faster learning. Investment in time repaid through faster productivity improvements.
  • It’s easier to see the flaws in someone else’s work than one’s own, so giving feedback on other people’s work can help you to learn what you need to do to improve your own work.

Possible problems

  • Too much socialising or complaining, not enough working on product.
  • Being given incorrect advice by someone working beyond their current level of expertise. (If unsure, ask someone with more experience like a supervisor or a Learning Adviser at Student Services.)
  • Poor quality of feedback on written work:
    • Too superficial: This is likely to be the case initially, but should improve with experience if all parties work at it and learn from each other.
    • Insensitively given and so damaging to self confidence. See guidelines for giving constructive feedback.

Reference: Michael Kiparsky’s article on this topic