Faculty 'Writing' Groups

Accountability and camaraderie to boost your scholarship.

What do we mean by "writing"?

According to Rockquemore, writing is “any project between conceiving of an idea to manuscript out the door” (NCFDD, n.d). We know that a “manuscript” might not be the evidence of scholarship that’s right for your discipline, and therefore, for our purposes:

“Writing” encapsulates whatever is involved from the inception of your idea to the completion of the final “product.”

Structure and support

Faculty “Writing” Groups (FWGs) provide you with structure and support to make steady progress toward your individual research and scholarship goals.

If you’re ready to connect with a group, you can use this short online form to express an interest, and we’ll connect you with colleagues across campus once we have a viable group size (typically 3–4 people):

Sign up here

If you’re not sure about joining a group, then read on, and we’ll explain our expansive definition of “writing,” as well as why we encourage you to try these groups out for yourself.

Under the hood of the scholarly process

  • Community engagement scholarship
  • Computer programs
  • Creative work in art, dance, music, theater, film, broadcasting, or literature
  • Disciplinary articles, monographs, books, or textbooks
  • Grant proposals
  • Innovative coursework, curriculum, and program development
  • Interpretive/theoretical articles or monographs for the profession
  • Pedagogical articles, monographs, books, or textbooks
  • Poster presentations
  • Professional presentations
  • Reports of professional consultations
  • Website development

Producing such a wide array of scholarship naturally involves many more elements than just “writing.” For instance, you may be conducting:

  • Archival work
  • Data analysis
  • Field work
  • Graphic representations
  • Infographics
  • Interviews
  • IRB applications
  • Lab work
  • Preliminary sketches
  • Statistical analysis

All these elements – and many more – count as “writing” for the purposes of Faculty “Writing” Groups.

What we know from the research-on-research

There is empirical evidence that Faculty “Writing” Groups help faculty progress with their scholarly work (Boice, 1989, 1997), and that is why we’ve been launching these groups since 2007.

The evidence suggests that, as faculty, we are more productive in our scholarship when we:

  1. spend time moving our project forward daily (but take the weekends for ourselves!),
  2. keep track of time spent doing so, and
  3. hold ourselves accountable to others.

Faculty “Writing” Groups put these ideas into practice. Groups are self-managed with the expectation that members will challenge and support each other, brainstorm how to overcome obstacles, promote accountability, and grow members’ confidence in their work.

These groups are intentionally interdisciplinary so that you remain the expert in your own field throughout.

It can be hard to get scholarship and research done for any number of reasons. One obstacle that many of us face is that we find it hard to make time for writing; juggling scholarship with our teaching responsibilities and our lives outside of Seattle U can be especially difficult. Others find that they can make the time, but they have trouble finding their voice or gaining confidence in that voice. It's easy to assume that research comes easily to everyone but you. It's not true. Many of us struggle with it.

Faculty feedback

Assistant professor

“The writing group has had an amazing impact on my scholarship. I have submitted a book manuscript (just submitted the final manuscript), had an article published, and started a new project this summer. The group has been a safe and supportive space to discuss the challenges of finding time for writing as well as navigating the tenure clock.”

Background and references

The model we’re using was developed in the UK and has worked well for SU faculty since 2007. It's known in the research literature as "Action Learning Sets" (McGill & Beaty, 2001; Brockbank & McGill, 1998). In this context, we’re simply calling them Faculty “Writing” Groups.

You'll be in an interdisciplinary group with 3–4 other faculty members. We suggest you meet fortnightly (every two weeks), during which time you set your own scholarship goals and hold one another accountable to those goals. The peers in your group will challenge and support you as you structure your time, brainstorm how to overcome obstacles, meet your deadlines, and find confidence in your voice. You'll provide the same kind of supportive challenge to them in return.

Sign up to join a group using this short online form. We’ll be back in touch once we have enough interested colleagues to create a new group.

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). Rowman & Littlefield.

Brockbank, A., & McGill, I. (1998). Facilitating reflective learning in higher education. Open University Press.

McGill, I., & Beaty, L. (2001). Action learning: A guide for professional, management and educational development (2nd Ed.). Kogan Page.