6 Steps to organizing for collaborative advantage for writers

collaboration hi-fiveIn her recent TAA webinar, “Mentor, Coach, Supervisor: Collaborative Ways to Work with Writers”, Janet Salmons defined collaboration as “an interactive process that engages two or more individuals or groups who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently”. During the session, she shared details about her taxonomy of collaboration and strategies for successful collaboration among academic writers.

In summary of the process for implementing the taxonomy of collaboration and organizing an environment suitable for creating a collaborative advantage for writers, she shared the following six steps.

Step #1 – Commit to common purpose

Reiterating Salmons definition of collaboration as “an interactive process that engages two or more individuals or groups who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently”, for successful collaboration to occur, all those involved in the process should share a common purpose.

Step #2 – Clarify roles and expectations

Various roles may exist in a collaborative process – coach, mentor, supervisor. It is important, not only with students or mentees, but all collaborators to define your role and what they can expect of you. When serving in a leadership role for a collaborative process, let people know what they can expect from you, what you expect from them, and what you expect of them in peer interactions.

Step #3 – Build trust & communicate

To be successful, it is important for collaborators to have either a personal level of trust or to simply have confidence that they can trust the process. Salmons said, “In the role of coach, mentor, or supervisor, it’s important to know who is involved and what some of the trip hazards might be or where problems might arise to create an environment where people will feel good about participating.” If they don’t feel that they can exchange their work with other, they will not be able to collaborate successfully.  

Step #4 – Review fairly & consistently

In collaborative environments review and feedback are essential and may come from peers or leaders of the group. When reviewing work or processes, Salmons advises to “be fair and consistent based on where people are at that time to keep them moving forward.”

Step #5 – Create opportunity for exchange

When using some of the processes shared by Salmons, the research cabaret – show and tell type approach – or a writing circle that provides a more in-depth review process, the focus should be on creating an environment for sharing ideas in which participants gain support and encouragement of their ideas and work.

Step #6 – Celebrate small wins

Finally, Salmons reminds us that large scale projects can be discouraging. As a result, it’s important to celebrate smaller accomplishments throughout the process.

The complete webinar recording is available in TAA’s Presentations on Demand library.


Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.