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‘Let’s Write and Finish a Writing Project’ Workshop Series

Dean Elizabeth Kenney and Al DeCiccio, the writing coordinator at Salem State’s Mary G. Walsh Writing Center, have recently completed the second iteration of the “Let’s Finish a Writing Project” workshop series. The first of the series took place in the summer of 2020 and was titled “Let’s Finish a Writing Project!” The initial workshop lasted six weeks and had six stipend-awarded participants.

The second installment in the series, “Let’s Write and Finish a Writing Project,” began on October 15, 2020 and finished April 22, 2021. To participate, faculty were required to submit an application, and then were awarded a small stipend through the Center for Research and Creative Activities (CRCA) with the requirement that they attend the bi-weekly Zoom meetings and at the end of the 7-month program, have a finished writing product.

The group met 12 times over the seven months, and all the participants were able to walk away with either a publication, a paper ready for submission, or a conference paper. The “Let’s Write and Finish a Writing Project” program is an opportunity for faculty to have some support for their research and to be accountable for writing about it.

Despite the difficulty of the year, DeCiccio claims he was impressed with the faculty’s ability to persevere to see their projects through. “This work distinguishes, not just the faculty and their departments, but the university as a whole.”

There were seven faculty who participated in the workshop, as well as Professor Kenney and DeCiccio himself. Over the course of the workshop, DeCiccio finished a 6,500-word article, “From Mill City to Witch City,” which has been submitted and will be reviewed this summer for possible publication in Praxis.

Professor Tiffany Chenault submitted a successful book proposal and signed a contract with New York University Press to complete The Race of Running: Black, Woman, Runner for late January publication. In addition, based on this book project, Professor Chenault is working to complete a 7,500 to 12,000 word journal article for the International Journal for the Sociology of Lesiure by August 2021.

“The meetings worked really well for me,” said Chenault. “It was great to know that every two weeks, I was accountable for my writing and sharing with others. Having the meetings over the course of two semesters (academic year) helped to plan out my writing project and pace myself. I enjoyed the community of writers in the meeting. This was another form of encouragement and support.”                                                             

Professor Twyla Fink is finalizing an article this summer, entitled “Running groups for patients with chronic critical illness: Practitioner perspectives,” to be submitted for publication in the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy.

“The meetings gave me an opportunity to explain my writing project to a new audience, to gain support on the writing process, and to hold myself accountable to smaller deadlines that, overall, helped to advance my project ever forward,” said Fink. “The group allows the participants to hear about the struggles and successes of other members, which is useful to keep a perspective on one’s own work.”

Professor Lisa Delissio of the Salem State biology department made significant progress on three articles on 19th century women botanists in Massachusetts' Essex County during the workshop period. She is checking the references for a 4,500 word article, entitled “Charlotte Nichols Saunders Horner, botanical pioneer,” which has been invited for publication in Rhodora, the journal of the New England Botanical Society. In addition, Delissio completed an 800-word article, entitled “Harriet Paine, forgotten nineteenth century Massachusetts botanist,” and is drafting a 2,500-word article, entitled “Mary Ellen Perley, outstanding practical botanist,” which she also hopes to publish in Rhodora.

“The meetings provided me with periodic deadlines, which have a way of focusing the mind,” Delissio said. “They provided connection during a time of isolation. They reminded me that I am part of a community of women intellectuals striving to live a life of the mind despite a context at work and in the world that would have us do otherwise. The meetings connected me to younger, more energetic professors whose work inspired me to do more and exposed me to new ideas.”

Following the workshop, Professor Jayashree Ranga is finalizing an article titled “Recorded Lecture Capture Videos Promoting Student Learning in Upper-Level Chemistry Courses.” This article will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, titled the Journal of Chemical Education. Based upon the research for this article, Ranga gave two conference presentations: 1. For the Virtual Meeting—American Chemical Society (April 2021) and 2. For the Virtual Meeting—2021 Massachusetts PKAL Network Winter Meeting (January 2021). 

For Ranga, the workshop series was an asset in such a trying year. “COVID-19 teaching was hectic would be an understatement. The semester was super busy. But for the ‘Let’s Write to Finish a Writing Project,’ I wouldn’t have squeezed time to perform data analysis from my previous semesters on recorded video data. This group/meeting made me accountable, and actually motivated me to perform data analysis and summarize the data as an article for a peer-reviewed journal,” Ranga said.

Professor Guorong Zhu submitted a 13,942-word article, entitled “All Roads Leads to Rome: How Work Experience Entrenches Executive Development,” to Human Resource Management following the completion of the workshop. Professor Zhu and her co-author also submitted a version of this article for the Academy of Management meeting. The article was accepted for presentation at the annual meeting in August 2021. If selected as a top article in its category, the article will be published in the meeting’s Proceedings. 

 “These meetings worked as a solid structure for me to make progress on writing the research paper, with colleagues witnessing,” Zhu said.

Professor Leslie Duhaylongsod said of the workshop, “the meetings worked very well. I loved the consistency, warmth, and collegiality of our gatherings. Al was an effective leader of this group—his just-right energy, his deep understanding of the writing process, his inspiring stories about writing, his ability to build community, and his bottomless empathy for us all as we tried to get scholarship done during a challenging year were all deeply appreciated.”

Duhaylongsod said she hopes to continue work on her current drafts so that she can submit it to the journal The Social Studies before the end of June.

And finally, Professor Roopika Risam used the time in the workshop to write her book  Insurgent Academics which she is currently finalizing for publication!

DeCiccio said the workshop was really a success because of Dean Kenney’s passion for the project: “It’s really because of Dr. Kenney’s vision to give support for research and scholarship to faculty and finding the means to provide a small stipend to inspire the faculty in a year of difficulties.”

This is a project both Kenney and DeCiccio hope to continue, and they are even looking in to hosting a third iteration this summer. Congratulations to all the participants on their wonderful work and successes!

Center for Research and Creative Activity (CRCA)
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