Academic-filter: Dissertation Writing Group, take 2!
November 14, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

How should I organize an academic writing group hosted online?

A couple weeks ago, I posted about some difficulties I was having in organizing a dissertation writing group online. That group in question eventually died. HOWEVER, I'm now moderating a new, slightly bigger group, with more active writers. This group will have between 10-20 really great, active grad students in it at different stages in their career. Hooray!

The thing is, I'm not sure why the first group failed. Help?

Here's how it was organized.

1. Separate thread/folder for resources. I normally updated that weekly. Was that too often? Not often enough?

2. Review/submission cycle. There were four of us, so I figured everyone could submit once a month and get feedback once a month. People kept missing their week, and then there would be a backlog of chapters to review, so no one would review them. Should I pair people into buddy groups or something? One group I saw basically set it up where one month would sort of below to three people. Those three would send out chapters/sections, get feedback, and then have discussion threads just for them, where folks could bounce ideas about their work. The group I saw that in was semi-abandoned, but that might be because everyone in it graduated...

3. Question/writing process prompts. I personally find these wicked useful, but really when I went sent them around, the response was really inconsistent. Like, people either talked like gangbusters, or ignored them. I was sending these out like every two weeks or so... too often? Not often enough?

4. Membership. I really want to invite a few of the women who were in the group that failed, because they are my friends, but this group is associated with a specific program/conference. Would inviting them be inappropriate?

5. What issues/concerns am I not thinking of?

I'm really nervous, because I'm going to be organizing this using Google Groups, which I've not really used before, and because someone I really want to be my mentor will be kind of monitoring it. I'm excited about using Google Groups because I think one of the difficulties with Basecamp is that it became one more log in for people, whereas Google Groups folks can integrate into their daily digital lives. Plus, we can circulate materials, host discussion threads, etc. I think that should work out okay, but suggestions for platform would be good too.
posted by spunweb to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any suggestions but I think this is a great idea.
posted by walla at 5:56 AM on November 16, 2012

@Walla -- so far, Google Groups has been pretty good, I think because people get an email, and it plays nice with folks who are using it on their phones or whatever.

I'm basically making a weekly writing thread, and then in late December I'm gonna have ppl sign up to be feedback readers for January, and also ppl willing to circulate.

So in theory -- each week of Jan will "belong" to someone who signed up for that week, and they'll have 1-2 ppl who have volunteered to offer critique for that one project. Others can chime as well, of course, but that way it's a little more "come as you are" than what I had organized before.
posted by spunweb at 5:53 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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