This paper reports on an investigation into the workplace writing of university lecturers as a significant element of their professional practice. The research has focused on lecturers' routine, everyday writing, as opposed to their more prestigious or scholarly writing. In order to gain an understanding of writing as professional practice, about 30 lecturers in three different UK universities have been interviewed, focusing on a small number of their everyday workplace documents, chosen by the participants themselves. This reflected a particular perspective on written documents in the university workplace - namely, that they actually instantiate practice rather than merely carry along meaning. The paper discusses some of the substantive, methodological and theoretical ideas emerging from the research. It is argued that the focus on lecturers' experience of producing and working with workplace documents in specific institutional contexts suggests new ways of framing the relationship between academic practice and academic identities, as textual, communicative and situated. This in turn has important implications for the way academic development is conceptualised.