Collaborative Writing


When the major writing project is a collaborative one, form a writing team and work together to produce a collaborative project. Each member should plan to be responsible for at least two roles on the writing team: (1) writer of a specific section of the project, and (2) specialist in one or more areas of the project. In addition to learning how to write this project, each team member should coordinate his or her individual effort, knowledge, schedule, and work habits with those of the other members. This coordination requires courtesy, thoughtful communication, and dependability on everyone’s part.

Each student should keep his or her own copy of the entire assignment, with all of its parts, together in a portfolio or notebook as the group completes the individual assignments. The group then submits the completed project in hard copy. If a web format is required, prepare an HTML or XML version for the web. Include the URL and instructions for accessing it with the hard copy. Again, each student should keep his or her own copy of everything.

Each team member should plan to write a specific section of the project—some members may write more than others, depending on their roles. Roles may overlap or be shared, depending on team members’ skills. Each student should take on two or more of the following roles:

  • Writer: Everyone in the group writes and revises a specific part of the project.

  • Group Leader: This person coordinates the team, organizes the writing plan and schedule (especially for group meetings), and picks up loose ends.

  • Editor: This person edits and proofreads final drafts, provides stylistic standards for the group as a whole, and guides the group in using stylistic conventions and formats.

  • Graphics Layout Artist and Production Manager: This person is responsible for project design, illustrations, layout, hard-copy and web formats, and the printing of the final project.

  • Subject Matter Specialist: Each person is responsible for researching technical topics, helping other team members with technical problems, and testing the final project for accuracy. All members must become subject matter specialists in at least one area.

  • Webmaster: In web projects, this person is responsible for putting the project on the web and administering it.

Your instructor may act as manager or ask that you manage your own team writing assignment. In either case, you should plan to meet as a group and decide which roles each of you will fulfill on the team and which sections of the project each of you will write. Your group may even write a contract for each member to agree to and sign. Plan to write all or some of them as a group, and be sure your instructor gets copies of all of them.

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