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Interprofessional Writing Group Provides Forum to Strengthen Skills and Network Across Disciplines

Twice a month, ASU faculty members from the College of Health Solutions (CHS) and the College of Nursing & Health Innovation (CONHI) meet to peer coach one another on scholarly writing.  Writing group members schedule dates to submit their own drafts over the course of each semester.  Volunteer reviewers read drafts in advance of the meetings and provide suggestions for strengthening arguments, clarifying ambiguity, and improving organization.  During the meetings, lively discussion helps authors of the drafts identify their intended audiences and focus key messages.

Drafts shared among the groups reflect scholarly writing projects, most commonly manuscripts to be submitted to journals or sections of funding proposals and, occasionally, conference abstracts or book chapters.  The members are regularly cheered by receiving news that drafts of proposals that they have reviewed have been funded and manuscripts that they have helped strengthen have been accepted.

An explicit agreement of the group is that everyone can contribute.  Members who do not know the subject area of the draft being reviewed can still provide suggestions about the organization and readability.  Members who know the subject area from the context of another discipline can help translate ideas across disciplines so that the published information is accessible to a broader audience.

“The interprofessional writing group does two things for me:  it helps me to understand other disciplines' scholarly conversations and to write more clearly about my own,” said Eve Krahe, director of ASU's Healthcare Innovation programs and a member of the downtown group.

The groups, facilitated by Nancy Moore and Debbie Hagler, meet face to face on the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses, and additional members join in by phone or videoconference.  Some faculty members have participated in the groups over several semesters, although overall membership in the groups changes each semester because of variations in class schedules, sabbaticals, and other academic activities.

Writing group members’ experience levels range from working on a first publication to writing prolifically.  Recently, members from two groups represented the disciplines of biomedical imaging, computer science, exercise physiology, engineering, health innovation, nursing, nutrition, psychology, public health, and speech pathology.

In addition to the intended outcomes of developing writing, the groups provide faculty an opportunity to network across disciplines and departments. Benefits have included meeting potential research collaborators and related subject matter experts in other fields.

Moore is a professional editor in the Office of Research and Scholarship (ORS). Hagler is a clinical professor and faculty development specialist in Educational Support Services (ESS). The ORS and ESS departments are part of the CHS and CONHI’s collaborative support structure, called Shared Solutions.

The groups have been meeting regularly since 2013, and are scheduled to continue in 2015.  Tempe group member Shelley Gray affirms, “Participation in a writing group is one of the best motivators to keep up with your writing goals, and the feedback you receive is invaluable.”

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Submitted by Debbie Hagler and Nancy Moore.

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