The 'Writing Partner' was the name given by Zellermayer et al. (1991) to a suite of computer programs designed to help teenagers write essays. Here, I have chosen to use the term to emphasise a slightly different aspect of collaboration - one that emphasises mutual support. Other investigators have used phrases such as 'study buddies', 'personal coaches' or 'mentors' to describe this. Whatever the name, the idea is that one can work together with one, or more, separate partners to facilitate one's writing. The emphasis here is on harnessing the power of social aspects of writing.
Sometimes, partners are allocated, or can be chosen, on writing courses offered by some institutions, and at what are sometimes called 'writers' retreats' (e.g., see Murray and Moore, 2006). Here, it is usually anticipated that there will be an experienced colleague (or mentor) who can assist with the writing of a less-experienced partner. Table 4.7.3 lists the typical activities of writing partners who have joined together. Morss and Murray (2001) and McGrail et al. (2006) present evidence to support the effectiveness of writing partners, writing support groups and writing coaches. When working together in these group situations, writers achieved more - more papers were written and published in higher-quality journals, and confidence was boosted.
Formal arrangements are probably helpful, but they are not always necessary. Working informally with different colleagues on a variety of tasks, sharing the writing, responding collectively to the referees, and correcting the proofs together can be mutually satisfying tasks.
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