Writing Support and Productivity Resources for Faculty

Starting a Writing Group With Colleagues

2020 MTLE Writing Groups

If you’re finding it more challenging to research or write right now, you’re in good company: many of your colleagues in MTLE have been expressing similar experiences. First and foremost, we’d encourage you to exercise compassion with yourself during this difficult time.

Some of you have expressed a desire to build more structure and/or more community support or accountability into your writing process. We’d like to help you identify people who have similar writing group needs. From there, we can share some resources you might use to facilitate your writing groups together.

If you’d be interested in joining a writing group, please fill out this MTLE Writing Group Interest Form.

Filling out this interest form doesn’t commit you to joining a group, but it does help us understand how many people are seriously considering doing so and what kind of writing group activities you’d consider participating in. After we gauge interest, we’ll follow up with additional information and provide structures for you to opt-in if you care to do so.

 

Overview

As Seattle University’s faculty development center puts it, “Empirical evidence shows that faculty are more productive in their research and writing when they write daily, keep track of time spent writing, and hold themselves accountable to others—and writing groups help you put this into practice (Boice 1989, 1997).”

Writing Group Structures

Approach 1: Accountability / “Check-In” Groups

  • Faculty set goals and share their progress with other faculty. Participants report back on their progress, and reporting to a group of peers increases their accountability to meet the goals they outlined for themselves.
  • Format options:
    • Check-ins together can be asynchronous (for instance, via a shared Google document or Slack channel), synchronous (via a video conference), or a mix of the two.
    • Accountability/check-in groups can touch base together intermittently over the course of the week or have set check-in points over the course of a single day.
  • Examples of different accountability group approaches (a customizable, non-exhaustive list):
    • A group might set Wednesdays as “Writing Bootcamp” days. They might touch base via video for 15 minutes to set goals in the morning, then update each other on their progress once or twice in a shared Google doc over the course of the day, then have a shared debrief together during a video conference at the end of the day.
    • A group might schedule their check-ins less frequently and over a longer period of time. They might set goals for themselves on Monday and share them with one another in a shared Google doc, video conference, or Slack channel. They might check in together (synchronously or asynchronously) on Wednesday and Friday.

Approach 2: Feedback/Writing Exchange Partners

  • Faculty form pairs or smaller groups (2-5 people) to exchange pieces of writing of moderate length.
  • Before exchanging pieces, faculty discuss what kinds of feedback they’re able to provide for others and what kinds of feedback they’d like to receive. Note: We encourage you to ask for and provide feedback about factors such as paragraph and sentence clarity rather than asking your colleagues for advice about discipline-specific issues or proofreading. (However, if you’re willing to provide one another with discipline-specific feedback or proofreading, you’re welcome to discuss that together.)
  • In our MTLE context, writing exchange partners are likely to be from different disciplines, but we can try to pair you with people in similar disciplines if it’s possible to do.

 

Resources

Writing Group Coordination Templates:

Writing Groups Outside of UW

  • The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity has a 14-Day Writing Challenge you can take part in. Faculty and graduate students at UW-Madison have a university-sponsored membership with the NCFDD, so you can access their resources and support groups at no cost.
  • There is a private, writing-focused Facebook group open to anyone who wants to discuss writing as guided by Wendy Laura Belcher’s book, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. 

Acknowledgments & Attributions:

We’ve borrowed some language from Duke’s Faculty Writing Groups program descriptions.

Seattle University’s faculty development center cites the following studies in its description:

  • Boice, R. (1989). Procrastination, busyness and bingeing. Behavior Research Therapy, 27, 605-611.
  • Boice, R. (1997). Strategies for enhancing scholarly productivity. In J.M. Moxley & T. Taylor (Eds.), Writing and publishing for academic authors (pp. 19-34). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

License

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MTLE Resources by Christian Castro, Naomi Salmon, and Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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