Academic writing is a vital, yet complex skill that must be developed within a doctoral training process. In addition, becoming an academic researcher is a journey of changing sense of self and identity. Through analysis of a group session, we show how the feedback of peers addresses questions of structure and writing style along with wider issues of researcher identity. Thus, peer learning is demonstrated as a process of simultaneously building a text and an identity as scholarly researcher. The paper advocates ‘borrowing brainpower’ from peers in order to write better texts and, at the same time, ‘share insecurities’ during the development of the researcher identity. Based on a distributed notion of peer learning and identity, we point to the need for further research into the everyday activities of doctoral writing groups in order to understand the dynamic relationship between production of text and creation of researcher identity.