Faculty Writing Groups

Multiple studies have pointed to benefits of faculty writing groups for increasing productivity. When pre- and post-data were available, publication rates improved at least twofold (McGrail, Rickard, & Jones 2006). Writing groups often offer additional benefits, such as promoting work-life balance (Davis, Provost, & Major, 2011).

Given these benefits, faculty writing groups have been launched at the UA. In 2017-2018, evaluations from respondents showed:

  • 100% agreed that participating in the writing group was worth their time; 
  • 100% agreed that they would recommend the faculty writing groups to colleagues; and
  • 93% agreed that participating in the writing group made them more productive than they would have been otherwise.

Comments from evaluations include:

  • "This program made a big difference for me. It was instrumental in the final stage of completing my manuscript, keeping me on track, focused and productive."
  • "I enjoyed and continue to enjoy the experience…it was a good kick start to continuous rather than binge writing for me. I made more progress this past semester than the three previous semesters combined."
  • I liked that we formed a small community of writers and were able to cheer each other on as we wrote proposals, papers and letters. It really helped to have the group keep us accountable for what we set as goals.
  • I liked how we were paired in our groups. I also liked all of the supporting information that we were given when starting our groups.
  • It was a really great support network - helped me talk through research related problems. Good for networking more broadly within the University.

Please join us for the 2018 Faculty Writing Group Launch on Fri, Sept 7, from 12:00-1:00, RSVP required. You can also connect with us on Facebook by liking our page: https://www.facebook.com/UAFacultyWriting

 

Writing accountability groups and why they work

Accountability groups are not your traditional writing groups. In traditional writing groups, people read each other’s work and provide substantive feedback. These can be great if you primarily need feedback, but they also can be time consuming.

Accountability groups do not provide substantive feedback, but rather use principles of motivation, goal setting and social support to help faculty maintain good writing habits and make consistent progress.

Accountability groups are time-efficient and advocated by experts. The expectation is for groups to meet one hour every other week, during which time members set goals and commit to completing them before the next meeting. They also report to the group on their progress on previously set goals.

One reason writing accountability groups are effective is because of their focus on goal-setting. Setting goals for a two-week period inherently breaks down larger project goals – such as completing a journal manuscript or grant proposal – into smaller achievable goals – like running statistical analysis or creating a budget. This process is called proximal goal setting.

Research finds that proximal goal setting enhances motivation, perceptions of self-efficacy, self-satisfaction and task persistence. When all the sequential components of a project seem doable, we are more likely to undertake a project and stick with it.

Writing a grant proposal, for example, may seem too daunting, which can lead to procrastination. But creating a budget for the proposal seems much more manageable and easier to start and complete. Proximal goal setting promotes continual incremental progress, and the goals don't even have to include writing per se – just something that moves you toward a finished project.

Another reason accountability groups work: We are more likely to achieve goals and stick to deadlines if we tell others.

An accountability group provides a constructive source of social pressure. If goals are not met, the group gives you a venue to discuss your challenges and seek advice. You will also get others' insights about writing challenges and behaviors that hinder productivity, as well as ideas to address these issues.

 

References

Davis, D. J., K. Provost, & A. Major, A. 2011. “Writing Groups for Work-Life Balance: Faculty Writing Group Leaders Share their Stories.” To Improve the Academy 30: 31-42.

McGrail, M., C.M. Rickard, & R. Jones. 2006. “Publish or Perish: A Systematic Review of Interventions to Increase Academic Publication Rates.” Higher Education Research & Development 25(1): 19-35.