OCCRL Scholarly Writing Group: Sharing our Story

by Julia Makela / Feb 18, 2013

This month the OCCRL Scholarly Writing Group celebrates its one year anniversary. Perhaps the best way to enjoy this moment is to share a bit about who we are and what we are accomplishing together.

The OCCRL Scholarly Writing Group is a group of research professionals and graduate students who are dedicated to getting the word out about the good work that is being done within our research office and within our personal scholarly agendas. We meet twice a month, in two-hour sessions to share our plans for publications, presentations, proposals, and other writing projects. We write together in our (affectionately nicknamed) “shut-up-and-write” sessions, report on progress, and cheer each other’s successes.

All members of our research group community are welcome, and all writing projects are honored – from blogs, to newsletter articles, to conference papers, to journal articles, to dissertations. We encourage all members to explore and develop their own professional voice.

In just one year, our group boasts 14 products that have been both: (1) contributed to during writing group time, and (2) published or accepted. These successes range from journal articles; to conference proposals, papers, and publications; to monographs; to newsletters; to blogs and brief magazine columns. A binder with copies of all of our successful products is kept in a common area of our office so that other OCCRL team members (especially new graduate students who may be exploring academic writing for the first time) may seek inspiration for their own writing projects.

Here is what a few of our writing group members have to say about what being a part of the OCCRL Scholarly Writing Group has meant to them:

Matt A. Linick, Ph.D. Candidate & Graduate Research Assistant
“The writing group has benefited me on many different levels. Mostly, it has given me an opportunity to sit and focus without distraction, but with the pressure from the rest of the group to ignore potential distractions. It is so easy to allow yourself to get distracted with responding to emails, quick tasks for work, or any other little thing, but those two hours twice a month, all I do is shut up and write.”

Jason L. Taylor, Ph.D. Candidate & Graduate Research Assistant
“The structured writing time is especially valuable to me. With the constant distractions of email and social media, I’ve found that I need to build writing blocks into my schedule to maintain a certain level of productivity. The writing group promotes this and is an opportunity to both share my work with colleagues and support colleagues in their writing process.

I also enjoy the collegial spirit of the writing group. Just like I think it is important to recognize and celebrate our students’ small wins and accomplishments, I think it is important to support our colleagues’ accomplishments in the scholarly writing and publishing process.”

Randi Congleton, First-year Ph.D. Student & Graduate Research Assistant
“The writing group has provided me an opportunity to learn necessary writing skills and techniques from peers who are further along in the doctoral process and scholars who think critically in the field. The uncertainty that is sometimes experienced as a new scholar around writing is mitigated by an atmosphere conducive to support, development, and a quiet place to go for it. As a result of participating, I was able to work on and complete my first contribution to the OCCRL Update newsletter.”

Tell us about your own writing group experiences and successes by emailing occrl@illinois.edu. We’d appreciate the chance to learn what helps you to find inspiration for writing projects and to see those projects through to submitting a final product.