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Writing Centers Play a Role in Increasing Universities’ Global Competitiveness

October 31st, 2019 by wrightcenter

Tatiana Glushko

For universities in the U.S., including JSU, increasing the number of faculty publications and supporting the development faculty as researchers and teachers of research has been an important issue. Everyone who writes for publication knows it is not an easy process, especially for someone who writes in a second or third language, like many faculty members at JSU. This issue, as I learned, is even more pressing for faculty in non-Anglophone countries. The internationalization of higher education and dominance of English-language publications in the world have created pressure for academics in these countries to write in English rather than in their native languages.

In my native Russia, for example, the pressure for faculty to publish in top-tier international journals has been growing since 2003, when Russia signed the Bologna declaration to integrate its higher education into the European system of higher education and research. With funding from the Russian federal government, the largest research universities began to establish writing centers to support faculty writing for publication in the efforts to become more competitive in a global context.

I wanted to understand this new development in Russian higher education and to see what we here in the U.S. can learn from it. In 2017-2018, I conducted a study in which I interviewed writing center directors about the development of academic writing centers in the Russian Federation (chapter forthcoming in an edited collection by the WAC Clearing House). In October 2019, I went to Moscow to participate in the 2nd international conference on academic writing. While in Moscow, I also led a writing workshop for faculty in the Academic Writing Center at Higher School of Economics (HSE), at the invitation of its director Svetlana Suchkova.

Photos by Arseny Kustov. Used with permission from the HSE Academic Writing Center.  

This visit has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the dynamic role writing centers play in higher education. At the conference, organized by the Russian National Writing Center Consortium and hosted by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, academic writing experts and enthusiasts from Russia, Australia, and the U.S. gathered to discuss academic writing pedagogy and issues of writing for publication in English. My colleague Svetlana Suchkova and I conducted a workshop “Research in the Writing Center: Finding a Focus and Developing Research Questions,” and I also participated in a two-day seminar led by Margaret Cargill, University of Adelaide, Australia. Cargill, author of Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps, demonstrated, for example, how to use AntConc, a corpus-analysis program, to help young researchers understand disciplinary writing practices and develop their own voice and writing style.

 

Margaret Cargill conducting a workshop with a group of graduate students, with writing instructors observing.

 

 

At HSE, my workshop for faculty focused on scholarly writing as a rhetorical problem and on strategies for solving it. We discussed how writing for publication requires understanding of the rhetorical situation in which we write, particularly of our international context and of audience expectations. Participants read and analyzed articles (published in top journals) with attention to rhetorical moves their authors made, and practiced offering and responding to constructive feedback on their own drafts.

Universities that aspire to lead in the global education and research also invest in writing support for their faculty and graduate students by establishing specialized writing centers that offer courses, seminars, and individual consultations. If you are interested in the possibility of establishing a center like this at JSU and would like to discuss how we might support faculty and graduate students in writing for publication, please contact me at tatiana.glushko@jsums.edu.

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