Creating a Support Structure for Academic Writing and Publication Support: The Rationale and Lessons Learned

Creating a Support Structure for Academic Writing and Publication Support: The Rationale and Lessons Learned

Tonette S. Rocco (Florida International University, USA), Lori Ann Gionti (Florida International University, USA), Cynthia M. Januszka (Florida International University, USA), Sunny L. Munn (Ashland University, USA) and Joshua C. Collins (University of Arkansas, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7409-7.ch002
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Abstract

Although research and writing for publication are seen as important responsibilities for most graduate students and faculty, many struggle to understand the process and how to succeed. Unfortunately, writing centers at most universities do not cater to these kinds of needs but rather to course-specific needs of undergraduate students. This chapter presents and explains the principles underlying Florida International University's establishment of The Office of Academic Writing and Publication Support, an office specifically designed to aid the scholarly writing efforts of graduate students and faculty. In doing so, this chapter aims to describe strategies and programs for the improvement of scholarly writing, provide insight into the kind of learning that can take place in a university writing center, and reflect on successes and missteps along the way. This chapter may be especially helpful to educators who seek to create similar offices or services at their own institutions.
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Introduction

Writing centers are prevalent within universities and are typically focused on the improvement of undergraduate student academic writing. These centers rarely focus on assisting graduate students or faculty with scholarly writing and the publication process. As the directors of an office charged with serving the scholarly writing and publication needs of graduate students and faculty, we have created programs, made mistakes, and improved processes around scholarly writing. The work we have done is based on Rankin’s (2001)The Work of Writing,Vopat’s (2009)Writing Circles, Rocco and Hatcher’s edited volume (2011) The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing, and other literature on scholarly writing. The purpose of this chapter is to present the guiding principles underlying the establishment of The Office of Academic Writing and Publication Support at Florida International University, to describe strategies and programs designed to improve scholarly writing, to present insights learned, and to reflect on missteps – all with the goal of helping others develop similar programs at their own institutions.

Improving Graduate Student Scholarly Writing

Universities use a variety of strategies to improve graduate students’ writing. One such strategy is to develop courses, wherein students learn about the processes, struggles, and forms of writing for publication. Another strategy is to create writing centers where students can go for grammar, editing, conceptual, and other types of assistance related to writing. While they are not the same entities (i.e., writing courses and writing centers), they can certainly bolster each other in meeting students’ academic writing needs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Publication: Any writing or academic/creative output, generally academic, competitive, and/or peer-reviewed, which is released to a broader audience via print, digital media, or some other format.

Writing Centers: Physical and/or symbolic spaces and resources provided to improve the writing (e.g., grammar, editing, conceptualization, and other tasks) of undergraduate and/or graduate students and sometimes faculty.

Scholarly Writing: Writing that is completed for scholarly purposes such as conference presentations or proceedings, book chapters, articles in scholarly journals, and other forms of academic, competitive, and/or peer-reviewed outlets.

Graduate Students: Students who are enrolled in graduate programs, or those programs beyond undergraduate study, such as master’s, doctoral, educational specialist, and more.

Higher Education: Formal and informal learning and education which generally takes place in college or university settings.

Faculty: Full-time, part-time, adjunct and other types of instructors employed in academic units at colleges and universities.

Writing Support: Guidance, mentorship, advice, and other forms of assistance provided to improve an individual’s writing skills and output.

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