Collaborative Writing

Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members

  1. Informal progress report in the form of a memo: At the first group meeting, members present their backgrounds and what they are most interested in doing for this project. At the end of the meeting, the team writes a group progress report, identifying each person’s background and desired roles, briefly describing the group’s technical writing/editing and production environment, and listing any questions, problems, or bright ideas that emerge.

  2. Subsequent informal progress reports: Thereafter, members submit weekly informal progress reports about attendance, action items, progress, and assignments. One person should act as recorder for the group during your discussion and take notes for the progress report. The recorder role should be rotated equitably among the group members. Every member should read and sign the informal progress report before it is submitted to the instructor.

  3. Editing strategy: To plan for reviewing and revising the final draft, your team must think of ways to evaluate and edit your team writing. Usually this step involves some quality-control measures and a cycle of reviews for the project. This strategy should address the needs of hard-copy as well as web formats if you are doing a web project. Your editing strategy should

    • identify the project’s readers, purpose, and uses

    • identify the ways in which both substantive and copyediting problems will be resolved

    • present a schedule for reviews and editing

    • describe how the final changes will be implemented

    In essence, your team has to anticipate many of the pitfalls of writing your project. Because most editing strategies focus on copyediting (editing for mechanics, grammar, and usage) or substantive editing (editing for concept and content, organization, methodology, form, and style), your editing strategy can be written before your project is complete.

  4. Information plan: An initial planning tool, this information plan includes a purpose definition, scope definition, audience analysis, objectives, statement of purpose, tentative outline by section, production and distribution plan, tentative schedule for completing each project piece, and list of specific tasks assigned to each group member. Discuss and write this plan as a group. Your team can use the information plan to request your instructor’s final approval of your project or recommendations for changing the concept and scope of your project.

    Remember that your information plan is intended to help you plan the writing process and can be adjusted as you actually write the project. Ideally, to preserve its integrity, you should have very few amendments to the plan. The more detail you have in the plan, the more likely your project will prove to be well designed.

  5. Formal progress report or updated revision of the information plan: This report describes the project status and significant deviations from the initial plan and presents a revised project schedule. Submit the revised plan about midway through your project with a one-page memo that describes what the changes are.

  6. Review draft: This draft includes each section of your assignment with an example of the final project design and any graphics. If you have not yet completed a section, make space for it in your draft and describe what will be in that section, how you will implement the content, and when you think it will be finished. Include a sentence or two to indicate what has yet to be finished in that section. Based on this draft, your instructor can approve your draft, make recommendations, or both.

  7. Final project: No doubt, there will be content requirements for your final project. For example, a formal report might include a title page, a transmittal letter, a table of contents, the body of the report, and any appendices. Web projects should follow conventions appropriate for that type of project.

  8. Evaluation of each team member: Every member of the team should plan to evaluate the other members in a brief paragraph. You will have to be specific and honest here so that your instructor can grade the project fairly. Consider giving each team member a grade.

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