How to write your story

One of the ways you might wish to contribute to our research is to write your own story of your experience of bullying or harassment. This allows you to shape your narrative and to ensure your voice comes through clearly. We are inviting academic women to write their own stories of bullying in the academy and to submit them through our website. Stories should be no longer than 3500 words.

Some of you may be comfortable with writing a narrative, and for those of you with this confidence or experience, our advice is to simply put the story together in the way that works for you. But for those who have not written a narrative before, here are some suggestions of how to proceed.

Writing a story is more than a simple list of chronological events. But that may be a good place to start: just sit down and write out what happened, step by step, writing in the first person. Gradually, add in more detail: how did you feel about what was happening? Who was supporting you (if anyone)? Who did you talk to about what was happening, and what advice did they give you? Was that advice helpful or not? Were any other aspects of your life, or other people (at home or at work), affected – if so, add that in. How did the story end? Was it a positive or negative ending? What caused the end of the story?

Once you have that detail written, take a break. Then come back from it with fresh eyes. Then there are two options to consider.

One option is just to stick with the chronological events, but to work on ensuring that the details are vivid and clear: you want your reader to feel as if they can actually see things happening.

The second option is to think about reorganising your story as it currently stands around a central idea or theme that you want to convey. A theme might be something like:

  • persistent resistance pays off
  • you’ll never win against a powerful white boss
  • don’t rely on official channels – your colleagues are the people who will have your back
  • indigenous values are wrongly sidelined in the management of bullying behaviors.
  • institutional racism/sexism/fat-bias can be overcome by ….
  • bullying affects more than your professional life

The above are rather simple examples, but hopefully you’ll see what we’re meaning. Now, re-write your narrative around that idea. Shape the events around that key idea in a way that will engage a reader and make the experience and idea vivid for them.

Whichever option you choose, remember that detail about the experience, suspense, and building character will help to bring your story to life.

Important things to note:

  • All stories submitted for this project will form part of the complete data set on which we will base our analysis. Some stories (c30) will be included as full narratives in the book to illustrate key themes that emerge from the data set. If your story is chosen for full inclusion, we will contact you and go through a second editing and consent process.
  • At this stage, we can only accept narratives written in English.
  • We are looking for true stories narrated in the first person, not academic papers
  • It therefore follows that no references are required (though you may choose to add some if they’re relevant – just make sure they don’t impede the narrative)
  • Please give yourself, any other people in the story, and your institution a pseudonym
  • If you’re not sure if your story is meeting our requirements, or if you would like to discuss the process with someone, feel free to contact us or send us a draft for comment.
  • Last date for the submission of a story is 30 June 2020.
  • Finally, keep yourself safe when writing your story. You may find yourself reliving the experience as you write: make sure you have support around you, and if necessary consult a professional to help you deal with the effects of your experience.

Submit your story

Because we are very conscious of the safety of participants, we have set up a very secure email address for the submission of stories, using protonmail. If you want to view the security features of protonmail, please see

Please submit your story to:

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