Friday, April 12, 2013

Writing Support

writing At the HEA STEM workshop Developing Techniques for Pedagogical Research in the Biosciences yesterday, talk turned to ways of supporting writing for publication. I would like to propose three possible models for consideration:

1. Pairwise Critique/Mentoring
The simplest model, two people agree to comment on drafts of each others manuscript(s). This could be either a peer relationship or a mentor-mentee relationship (but see Sustainability below). Similarly, it could be either a one off arrangement or a reiterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Might require some administrative support to establish pairings.

2. Writing Boot Camp/Book Sprint
A physical event (presumably funded by HEA? ;-) where aspiring authors gather to support and encourage each other to produce a finished manuscript.  If conducted over a period of time, this would follow the boot camp model, if compressed, it would be more like a book sprint.

3. A Writing Group
A (presumably online) group where aspiring authors could turn for support, advice and encouragement, including literature surveys, data analysis, textual criticism and publication tips such as choosing the right journal and dealing with referees comments.

All of these are possible and easy to do. My main concern with a venture of this sort is that while it is very easy to set them up, sustaining activity over a period of time is difficult. My answer to this problem is to ensure that everyone involved gets something out of the transaction (which tends to rule out the mentor-mentee relationship). The PeerJ model is worth considering - not so much paying a small subscription to join (although that might help defray any costs and people do tend to value what they've paid for more highly), but the part about having to review other people's work in order to get your own reviewed, i.e. having to remain in credit, thus ensuring mutuality.

Suggestions welcome (especially if based on experience!)


  1. Oi, you, you stealing my ideas? Want to collaborate? I was talking to Mark Langan, now Graham Scott, about such things. Have interest from Australia (Adelaide) and Friday talked to some Swedes who are already implementing ideas. Whadda ya think?

    It's Anne, by the way.

  2. Things are moving - see tomorrow's blog post :-)

    I'm in two minds about the best way forward. Part of me thinks that we could do with some organization, but I also wonder if small, local, informal arrangements might ultimately turn out to be the most easily sustainable. Whatever model is followed we must avoid the tragedy of the commons and ensure that all parties involved get something out of the arrangement.

  3. Does Graham know about what's happening? Or has he stolen my ideas as well? Ha ha. Do you know what they're doing at Lund? I suggested it two years ago at our place and was told people wouldn't do it.

    1. Graham was at the SEB event on Friday so yes, he knows.