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Writing Effectively as a Team

By Barbara Gastel | Jan. 8, 2013  | Research writing Research skills

Greetings again. I hope all is going well.

Recently a researcher e-mailed a suggestion about a book I co-authored on scientific writing. He suggested that the next edition include advice on having a team write a journal article.

What a good idea! With so much writing coming from teams of researchers, more should be said about such collaborative writing. So, below are tips on writing as a team. The tips can apply to writing journal articles, grant proposals, and other items.

  • Before writing, share ideas. If possible, meet in person. Otherwise, exchange ideas by phone, Skype, e-mail, or other means. Brainstorm about content. Discuss structure. Decide who will do what. Make a tentative schedule.
  • Perhaps prepare written guidelines, for example regarding reference style.
  • Draft the document. Depending on the situation, one person may draft everything, or different people may draft different parts.
  • Obtain feedback from the other team members. Sometimes it’s best to get feedback on one part before drafting the next. Other times, it’s best to get feedback on everything at once. (The “Track Changes” feature in Word can be helpful in providing feedback. So can software specifically for collaborative writing.)
  • Revise the draft, based on the feedback. Then have the team review the new draft. Repeat the process until the document seems final.
  • Afterward, think about the team-writing experience. Consider what to keep the same next time and what to improve.

Do you have advice on collaborative writing? If so, please submit a comment.

Until the next post—



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