In the higher education context where this study was conducted most research students begin their studies with little or no formal training in academic literacy and are expected to develop academic writing skills as a by-product of reading journal articles and discussing them in focus groups, and through the support from research training course instructors. This study will explore the experiences of five PhD students during a six-month research training course as they develop academic writing literacy. Specifically, the main objectives are to identify these research students' initial conceptualisations of academic writing, the ways in which they refine these conceptualisations throughout the course; the cognitive and contextual factors they attribute these changes to, and how these conceptualisations are enacted in their written assignments. The project will take the form of a within-site, multiple-case study of individual PhD students conducted at a higher education institution in Turkey. Data will be collected through preliminary background interviews, think-aloud protocols, content analysis of written assignments, and semi-structured round-up interviews. It is envisaged that the results from the study will contribute to a greater theoretical understanding of the cognitive development of research students as they acquire academic writing literacy, a perspective which has not featured strongly in the relevant literature. Moreover, the findings are expected not only to have implications for the provision of academic writing support in the research training course concerned, but also to inform the positioning and role of academic writing training in postgraduate research programmes.