Writing in community: Academics supporting academic writing
Thompson, G., Beltman, S., Glass, C., Jackson-Barrett, E., Kuzich, S. and Price, A. (2011) Writing in community: Academics supporting academic writing. In: AARE 2011, 27 November - 1 December 2011, Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart.
As academics there is an expectation that we will have a strong research output. The recent Research Quality Framework (RQF) and now Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) includes publications as key indicator of both individual and institutional performance. Coupled with increased teaching and administrative workloads many academics have found the imperative to 'publish or perish', has placed added pressure on already busy lives particularly for early (ECR) or interrupted (ICR) career academics.
Many universities have offered different solutions to support staff in developing a research profile. McGrail, Rickard and Jones (2006) have outlined three main approaches used by universities to support academic staff, namely, writing courses and provision of a writing coach or mentor. Of these three interventions the support groups were found to have the highest rate of success in terms of publications, but all were supportive of the writing process and individual output.
In this presentation we will tell the story of our writing group. After several manifestations it is now made up of seven academics from two universities. The research interests/paradigms of the group are diverse and the group has had to carve out a physical and temporal space to do nothing but write, think and share.
We have timetabled one and two-day periods for writing, critical feedback and support of each other. Unlike many writing groups we write in community. It is this writing in community that we believe is the strength and point of difference of our group. We have improved our publication output, but we have also developed relationships and support mechanisms for ourselves as members of a community of writers. The outcome of our work thus far (and it is a work in progress) has led us to surmise that although targeted workshops are helpful, and individual coaching or mentoring offers support, it is writing in community where individual academics are best supported. We offer our experience as a way of supporting writing for academics across the university sector. Fear and anxiety about writing, time available, worthiness of ideas and lack of confidence have been identified as issues for academic writers (Lee & Boud, 2010; McGrail, et al, 2006; Rickard, et al, 2008) and writing together has, we believe, gone some way to alleviate these issues.
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|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Education|
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