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Marion Waite : My dream: A virtual and collaborative writing group for Faculty staff and students.

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Marion Waite
13 January 2013

The Context

This is a Health & Life Sciences Faculty based project, which brings together Faculty Staff and Learners in dyads as co-producers of outputs of writing for academic and discipline- specific peer reviewed journals.

Membership of the group has been established, 10 members of Faculty staff, 14 learners in addition to other University colleagues with expertise in academic writing and an external facilitator.

The group will meet in an audio graphic context (Wimba Classroom) in order to deal with diverse geographical  settings of the participants. Many of our learners study with us from a  distance.

The proposed writing outputs will be based on the learners’ own  dissertation research (they are a mix of undergraduate and post graduate students), which has already demonstrated originality and the potential to make a real contribution in practice. The Faculty staff with whom they form a dyad are their dissertation supervisors. There are a myriad of beneficial goals for all parties.

The challenge is that many of the Faculty staff within the group do not have experience of writing for peer reviewed publications and of those that do, they have less confidence in supporting learners to write for publication.

The Change I would like to see

The obvious change are the achievement of the proposed writing outputs but the biggest challenge is the shift of the Faculty staff  and learners into a genre of academic writing for publication.

How I might go about bringing the change

This project is underpinned by a constructivist approach. In addition to audiographics an online collection of resources to support academic writing is being established. This is currently in a closed Moodle site but there is a question about this being an open site to encourage wider collaboration. There is also a question about how social media could support the project . Forming a study circle of interested parties to explore these would be a great enhancement for this project

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Mark Johnstone
6:43am 14 January 2013

Hello Marion,

This is an interesting project. Is your main focus research methodology or composition and how do you define collaboration within this context? Have you included a peer review process here? If so, how is that structured?

I'd be interested in participating in a study group around this topic, if you set one up. I am teaching ESL at a private Saudi university. They have a research focus here and students already do collaborate among themselves and with faculty to write for publication. That is organized through the School of Medicine and I am not involved in it.

I am, however, interested in developing collaborative writing projects within my English composition class.


Marion Waite
9:36am 14 January 2013 (Edited 9:37am 14 January 2013)

Hi Mark

Thank you very much for your constructive comment. The main focus is composition. The collaboration will be between a dyad of lecturer and learner. The pair already have an established working relationship in that the lecturer will have supervised the learner's dissertation so the concrete output will be a joint publication based around the dissertation topic submitted to a peer reviewed journal.

There is further collabortive activity in that the project has attracted the interest of a wider group of collagues in the University who have an interest in academic writing, interestingly one of them from a similar backround to yours. We would really like to produce a set of resources so that these writing activities could be replicated if they prove successful.

I have a University Fellowship award to complete this work but one of the critiques of the interview panel was that I hadn't really thought thorough the evaluation. Subsequent to that Faculty staff have agreed to keep reflective diaries thoroughout the course of the project (2 years) with a view to submitting a joint publication ourselves. Other than this I still have some work to do on evaluation. Any ideas gratefully accepted.

I would be very interested to know more about the School of Medicine approach in your University for writing for publication.

I have joined Chris Basson's study circle on Google +. I'll send you an invite.


Mark Johnstone
10:42am 14 January 2013 (Edited 10:43am 14 January 2013)

Hello Marion,

Thanks for your reply to my questions about your collaborative writing project. You mentioned that you would like to build a set of resources that might support its replication. What types of resources do you have in mind?

You asked about evaluation. One way to do this is to track the research writing process through various drafts and reiterations. Collaborative writing tools like Google Docs are reasonalby accessible and good for this type of thing. Wikis can also be used to draft various parts of a paper collaboratively. They also typically track all changes so it is very easy to see who has done what.

I don't know how the School of Medicine organizes their collaborative research with students. If you would like, I facilitate contact with some students who have done this type of thing. I can't give you students' email addresses, but I could forward any questions you have to them and ask them to send their replies back to me or directly to you, as they please.

You can reach me off list on gmail, user name mcjsa25

Thanks for the invitation to Chris Basson's study circle. I hope to see you there.


Caroline Cash
4:22pm 14 January 2013

Hello Marion,

I am interested in your approach. My project involves introducing research methods for educational enquiry in an arts-based institution where participants feel that writing is quite alien to their studio-based practices. As part of my project I would like to explore ways to support participants might be encouraged to write for academic publications. I am wondering how far the technical/digital solutions might be appropriate as the most successful way in which we have achivieved this so far is to provide dedicated time and space along with critical support and guidance. How effective might this be in an online environment.

I look forward to following your project with interest and would be happy to team up to share ideas.




Marion Waite
4:37pm 14 January 2013

Hi Caroline

Thank you for your interest in my project. I think you pose a really good question about the digital solutions and I think that will be part of the evaluation. We are aiming to provide dedicated space and support within the online environment but I guess we will have to wait and see. 

Your project sounds challenging. I teach research methods for health care and although our students are more familiar with writing they tend to find the concepts counter intuitive.

Yes lets team up to share ideas. I have joined Chris Basson's study circle if you send me your e-mail address to, I will forward you the invite.


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