Academic Writing Workshop for Medical School Faculty
|9289||December 13, 2012||1|
For many faculty members in academic medicine, the daily demands of teaching, research, and patient care often leave little time for scholarly writing. Lack of confidence in writing abilities and few opportunities for feedback on drafts only make it more challenging to produce manuscripts suitable for publication. As a result, data collected on educational interventions and other projects may go unreported in the peer-reviewed literature.
In fall 2011, the authors designed a four-part workshop to provide medical faculty members the structure and support to complete an academic manuscript. Participants registered for the workshop with a specific writing project in mind. Each one-hour session included an interactive discussion on a writing topic and a meeting with a writing team. Together, the workshop facilitators and peer mentors ensured that writers received the feedback and encouragement necessary to prepare manuscripts for submission.
Cahn P, Benjamin E. Academic Writing Workshop for Medical School Faculty. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2012. Available from: https://www.mededportal.org/publication/9289 http://dx.doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9289
- To present written evidence to advance an intellectual argument.
- To adopt work habits that facilitate the completion of writing projects.
- To prepare a submission for peer review at an academic journal.
- Publishing (MeSH), Working Habits, Peer-review, WeTeach
- Internal Medicine
Interpersonal & Communication Skills
Knowledge for Practice
Practice-based Learning & Improvement
Leadership & Organizational Development
Professional & Faculty Development
Professional School Post-Graduate Training
Authors & Co-Authors
Peter S. Cahn, PhD
Boston University School of Medicine
Emelia J. Benjamin, MD, ScM
Effectiveness and Significance
At the final of four sessions, participants in the workshop completed an evaluation form. Eleven of fourteen respondents (79%) increased confidence in their ability to complete the writing project. 86% projected submission of their manuscripts within three months of the workshop.
The overwhelming majority of participants expressed satisfaction with the frequency and number of workshop meetings.
A follow-up survey a year after the workshop revealed that the workshop yielded three peer-reviewed publications and two more awaiting decisions.
As a result of the workshop, more findings from research projects will reach scholarly audiences. Individual participants will benefit by enhancing their publication records, a key consideration in promotion decisions.
Special Implementation Guidelines or Requirements
Although the workshop targeted faculty members in internal medicine, it may be implemented with residents, fellows, attending physicians, and basic scientists as long as they have collected and analyzed data.
The call for participants should emphasize that the workshop requires active engagement and the circulation of manuscripts in draft form. By requesting information about the proposed writing project ahead of the first session, the facilitators can create writing teams based on shared interests.
Because the participants likely have relevant publishing experience, facilitators should limit their role to soliciting group wisdom on each stage of the writing process. They must be mindful to leave enough time each session for the writing teams to meet and discuss drafts. During that portion of the workshop, the facilitators may circulate between groups to gauge areas of difficulty and to offer suggestions.
Writing is often solitary. Simply hearing that their colleagues confront the same challenges of time management and writer's block reassures faculty members. The workshop provides the structure and accountability necessary to motivate writers to complete a languishing project. In one case, a participant finished a manuscript that had been dormant for two years.
The same pressures that make writing difficult for busy clinicians and scientists also impact the academic writing workshop. Attendance varied at sessions despite scheduling early and offering lunch. In the future, the facilitators will consider explicitly addressing the importance of regular attendance at the first session. It may also be necessary to speak to medical directors about allowing faculty members to rearrange their clinical schedules.
Participants felt strongly that membership in writing teams should be limited to colleagues with similar backgrounds. Some writing teams were more consistent than others with circulating drafts ahead of time and using the in-person meetings to offer suggestions for revision. To standardize the benefits of the teams, the facilitators will consider recruiting two or three more moderators to act as team leaders. Leaders would be responsible for sending reminders to team members in between sessions and keeping track of time during team discussions.
This information is made available under the Creative Commons license.