Writing Process Reengineering Week
On January 22, 23, and 24, 2019, I will be holding three sessions about my approach to scholarly writing at the Copenhagen Business School. The first will be directed at doctoral students, the second will be focused on the craft of writing journal articles, and the third will look at how to help your students become better writers. The unifying theme of all three sessions is the art of writing down what you know, in coherent prose paragraphs, during well-defined moments, for the purpose of discussing it with other knowledgeable people. Each seminar can stand alone, but their sum is designed to be worth more than its parts.
“To know whom to write for,” said Virginia Woolf, “is to know how to write.” As a scholar you are writing for other scholars whose thoughts you have access to through the literature. And you are writing for them because they are qualified to help you think more carefully about things. To put it bluntly, they are are qualified to tell you when you are wrong. During your doctoral education you should become increasingly comfortable with criticism, and your writing is one the most important ways in which you open yourself to it. Good writing is open to criticism and this means that your prose has to have a certain kind of strength. You develop this through practice, one paragraph at a time, and this seminar will give you some tools and techniques to do exactly this.
It’s fair to say that the journal article is the “unit of production” in the academic enterprise. It’s the “deliverable” and, for better and for worse, the measurable output. For for most researchers it is the “key performance indicator” and we do well to take it seriously. But it’s possible to take it too seriously, to worry too much about the end product and forget to enjoy the process that produces it. Only occasionally will we have the irrefutable “success” of publication. At the end of the day — at the end of each day, that is — we have to be satisfied with the paragraphs we have written, and that is what this seminar will help you do. We will analyse the outline of a “standard social science article”, identifying the purpose and posture of each section, including the all-important introduction and conclusion. This will help us to think of the writing process one moment and one paragraph at a time.
Writing is also an important part of teaching. But it is famously difficult to make writing an explicit part of university instruction, not least because of the costs involved. Many people (and especially students) believe that improvement requires detailed feedback on many pages of student writing. This is often unworkable because there is not enough time. This seminar will apply the principles of Writing Process Reengineering to the design and assessment of student assignments. It will leverage the writing moment and the academic paragraph to the end of letting students experience their own writing, and that of their fellow students, cultivating an awareness of quality and the skills to produce it. Most importantly, it will help teachers quickly and easily identify good writing and suggest lines of improvement through deliberate practice.
Self-organized Writing Groups (all year)
All researchers at CBS are welcome to contact me if they would like to meet on a regular basis to discuss their writing. The most useful model is for 2-4 scholars to agree on a meeting schedule that I’ll then try my best to accommodate. The meetings will focus on the issues that the participants want to discuss, of course, but I will normally suggest that we spend at least some of the time editing paragraphs together. Contact me by phone or email to make arrangements.