History

About

The Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion, in conjunction with the Maroon & Write QEP, has launched a minority faculty writing circle targeted towards under-represented faculty with less than two years of service at Mississippi State University. The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Increase promotion and tenure of minority faculty by supporting faculty as they write for publication
  • Encourage and develop best practices in writing and introduce faculty to resources available to them at MSU
  • Provide a venue for networking and subsequent accountability for daily writing
  • Provide a forum to discuss current writing projects and share writing progress and/or challenges
  • Provide a space for structured faculty writing time

Program Structure

Each semster, participants are invited to a kick-off lunch featuring Mississippi State’s Provost and Executive Vice President as the keynote speaker. During this session, the goals of the program and participant expectations are outlined and participants are provided with supplementary reading materials. Currently, the writing circle groups are reading Paul Silvia’s “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing.”

Initial Program Structure

Participants met for two hours bi-monthly. Each session structure began in the Fall 2016 semester as follows:

  • Initial goal setting and discussion (info sharing and accountability - 40 minutes)
    • What are your general writing goals? Semester-based writing goals? Goals for each session? How did you meet the goal? (why/why not
  • Abbreviated presentation of weekly writing strategy topic - 20 minutes (follow-up services and events with Library/Office of Research/other university units)
    • i.e., impact Factors, Writing for Publication, topics as requested by group members
    • Participants were given a needs assessment and topics for each session were based on these responses.
  • Individual writing time - 60 minutes


At the conclusion of the academic year, writing circle participants were formally recognized through a luncheon featuring Mississippi State’s Provost and Executive Vice President. During this session, participants were encouraged to share their writing successes and challenges, as well as to discuss any other retention-based issues with the group and senior leaders.

Current Program Structure

Based on feedback from mid-semester and annual assessments, the structure of the Writing Circle program was changed to reflect physical meetings once a month, with additional online support sessions and learning modules added through the university’s learning management system, Blackboard Learn. The two hour sessions structure is as follows:

  • Initial goal setting and discussion (info sharing and accountability - 40 minutes)
    • What are your general writing goals? Semester-based writing goals? Goals for each session? How did you meet the goal? (why/why not)
  • Abbreviated presentation of weekly writing strategy topic - 20 minutes (follow-up services and events with Library/Office of Research/other university units)
    • i.e., Impact Factors, Writing for Publication, topics as requested by group members
    • Participants were given a needs assessment and topics for each session were based on these responses
  • Individual writing time - 60 minutes


Additionally, participants are welcome to attend weekly writing time blocks at the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center Conference room. Typically, the time block lasts for two hours and participants are provided with a physical space to write alongside a community of individuals.

Group Expectations

PARTICIPANT EXPECTATIONS:

  • Regularly attend and participate in discussions and writing activities
  • Set and monitor writing goals and accomplishments
  • Provide feedback and suggestions on presentation topics and activities
  • Come to each session prepared to work- bring a laptop and writing resources to each session

FACILITATOR EXPECTATIONS:

  • Develop and lead a presentation specific to writing and publication strategies each session
  • Serve as a mentor for participants regarding writing for promotion and tenure, resources available at MSU, and other writing strategies
  • Facilitate meaningful discussions and encourage participants to develop and meet their short-term and long-term writing goals

Additional Writing Speakers/Features

In addition to the structured writing sessions, expert sources in writing are brought in each year to provide workshops on improving writing.

Examples of featured sessions include:

  • "Tenure & Time Management: How to Manage Your Time so You Can Publish Prolifically and Have a Life Beyond the Ivory Tower," presented by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity
  • "Strategies for Writing: Knowing Where to Publish," presented by faculty experts and award winning researchers from Mississippi State University

Additionally, writing circle participants are encouraged to attend workshops provided by the Mississippi State University Libraries system. Samples of these workshops include:

  • Publishing 101: Navigating the Academic Publishing Process
This workshop provides an introduction to the academic publishing process. Topics covered include journal selection, submission strategies, managing the relationship with editors and reviewers, and publishing best practices.
  • Improving Your Research Productivity
Want to make the most of your research time? This workshop provides strategies that can improve the quality and quantity of your research
  • Who's Citing You? Tracking the Impact of Your Research Productivity
Do you know your H-index? How do you manage your research profile on social media? This session will provide steps to assist the 21st century researcher as they manage their online research persona.
  • Before You Sign: Understanding Your Rights as an Author
What rights do you have as an author? Can you post your research online for others to read? This workshop will address common concepts and issues related to academic author’s contracts.
  • Tenure 101: Understanding the Tenure and Promotion Process
This workshop provides a general overview of the promotion and tenure process

Program Successes

  • Based on qualitative and quantitative feedback from writing circle participants, the program has helped individuals:
    • Increase their motivation to write
    • Set writing goals for the semester
    • Build a community of writing resources
    • Achieve writing goals during an academic year
    • Increase confidence in their ability to write for publication
    • Develop relationships with fellow MSU new faculty
  • Examples of completed works during the time participants were enrolled in the writing circle include:
    • U.S. Department of Education grant proposal, accepted book chapter, articles accepted with minor revisions into peer-reviewed journals, technical report to be published by a federal agency, and others