Advice for Students about Writing in Groups

 

For a successful group writing experience, consider the following advice:

Set clear and fair writing objectives and roles for each group member.

Each group member should choose a role that will play to his or her strengths. See the list below for possible group member roles.

Take advantage of each person's writing strength.

Each writer has a different strength: researching, planning, organizing, creating charts and tables, editing and proofreading. Divide up the writing duties based on each writer's strength.

 Set a drafting and revising schedule.

Group projects require more organization and planning than individually written projects. Setting a schedule and assigning a group leader to keep everyone on schedule will lead to a more successful writing process.

 Allow time for the writing process.

Writing is a process, and even the most experienced writers require drafting and revising. This is especially true of a collaborative project, since it will take a number of drafts to create a group project that has a unified voice.

 Exchange rough drafts and give each other feedback.

Sharing drafts gives each writer feedback during the process and helps to create a more unified report. Give both positive feedback and constructive criticism, and focus on content in the initial drafts (organization, tone, development) and sentence-level issues in the final draft (grammar, punctuation, format).

Allow extra time to integrate each section of the project into a single voice.

One of the most difficult challenges of collaborative writing is to give the project a feeling of unity. Allow extra time to read the project in its entirety and edit for a unified tone and style.

 

Group Member Roles

In most group projects, each group member is responsible for creating at least part of the text. But each member should also focus on one aspect of the project by choosing a role. Here are some example group writing roles.

Group leader

The group leader oversees the project and facilitates communication between the group members. The group leader is also responsible for ensuring that writing deadlines are met and that each group member is contributing to the project.

Lead writer

Although each group member should contribute to the writing of the content of the project, the lead writer may do more of the writing than the other members, either by taking on a bigger section or by helping with the final revisions of each section.

Editor

The editor focuses on sentence-level and format issues, such as grammar, sentence structure, and citations.

Reviewer

Ideally, each member should be part of the review and revising process, but the reviewer can play a greater role as a responder to drafts of each member's writing.

Researcher

The researcher gathers data and outside sources. Although each member may participate in researching the topic, the researcher is responsible for making sure an adequate amount of research has been done.

Graphic design person

The graphic design person is in charge of charts, images, graphs, etc.