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Writing Accountability Groups (WAGs)

You've heard about them, now start your own! With more than 50 WAGs across many Hopkins campuses, the "wagging" process has become a popular one. Learn more, explore the toolkit, and reach out to Dr. Skarupski to start one of your own!

Frequently Asked Questions about WAGs

  • Who joins WAGs?
    ​Anyone! Students, trainees, post-docs, faculty at all levels.
  • What are they?
    ​A WAG is an active writing group that meets once a week over a 10-week block and follows a strict agenda of 15 minutes of updates and goal-setting followed by 30 minutes of individual writing, and then 15 minutes of reporting and wrap-up (there is no peer review of your writing – the WAG is focused on developing a process and habit of writing). A WAG is limited to 4-8 members and you MUST commit to attending at least 7 of the 10 weekly sessions. I guarantee that if you adhere to the plan, you will achieve increased writing productivity (quantity and quality), have greater control over the writing process, experience improved goal-setting and time management, and as a bonus, you'll establish relationships with new colleagues and friends.
  • What do you do in a WAG?
    ​You meet with your fellow WAG members for one hour a week over a 10-week period. During the weekly WAG session, you will be engaged in some form of a writing activity for 30 minutes and the remaining 30 minutes are spent goal-setting and reporting on progress.
  • Where do WAGs meet?
    ​WAGs meet wherever is convenient for your group.
  • When do they meet?
    ​WAGs meet whenever is convenient for your group.
  • Why do WAGs exist?
    ​WAGs exist to help people establish good writing habits (and learn time management and organization skills). The focus is on the writing process, not writing outcomes; there is no content review of writing. WAGs are also good opportunities to build professional and personal relationships.
  • How do they work?
    ​A group of 4-8 people meet for one-hour a week over a 10-week period (WAGgers must commit to attending at least 7 of the 10 sessions). The first 15 minutes of every WAG is a participant report-out on the prior week’s writing goals and the plan for that day’s writing session; then there is a 30-minute timed communal writing period; the final 15 minutes is spent reviewing what each member accomplished during the writing session and a statement of the writing goals for the next week.
  • How can I join one?
    ​It’s most efficient to get your own WAG started rather than waiting for an opening in a WAG. You just need to find 3-7 other folks, identify an hour slot that works for everyone over a 10-week period, and a place to meet. Once you’ve established your group’s start date and time, contact Dr. Kim Skarupski ASAP so that she can send your group the pre-assessment form and arrange to be there for your first-day orientation session.
  • Do WAGs work?
    ​Yes, we have pre-post assessment data showing that WAGgers report increased writing frequency (writing daily or almost daily vs. monthly or rarely) and reduced writing session duration (participants report writing for shorter periods of time [desired outcome]). WAGgers also report better time management and organization skills.

WAG Toolkit

Other Writing Resources

Biomedical and Scientific Writing Resources (Dr. Sarah Poynton)

Resources for Non-Native English Speakers

  • An Outline of Scientific Writing by Jen Tsi Tang
    Description of book: This book is aimed at researchers who need to write clear and understandable manuscripts in English. Today, English is the official language of international conferences and most important publications in science and technology are written in English. Therefore, learning how to write in English has become part of the researcher's task. The book begins by discussing constructs of the English language such as sentence structure and word use. It then proceeds to discuss the style and convention used in scientific publications. Some of the topics covered include: Planning of a Manuscript; Authorship; References; Tables and Figures; Submission to a Journal; Production Schedules. This book is written at such a level that the reader should not have to resort to a dictionary. It includes many examples and exercises to clarify the rules and guidelines presented.
  • Science Research Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English by Hilary Glassman-Deal
    This book is designed to enable non-native English speakers to write science research for publication in English. It can also be used by English speakers and is a practical, user-friendly book intended as a fast, do-it-yourself guide for those whose English language proficiency is above intermediate. The approach is based on material developed from teaching graduate students at Imperial College London and has been extensively piloted. The book guides the reader through the process of writing science research and will also help with writing a Master's or Doctoral thesis in English. Science writing is much easier than it looks because the structure and language are conventional. The aim of this book is to help the reader discover a template or model for science research writing and then to provide the grammar and vocabulary tools needed to operate that model. There are five units: Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion/Conclusion and Abstract. The reader develops a model for each section of the research article through sample texts and exercises; this is followed by a Grammar and Writing Skills section designed to respond to frequently-asked questions as well as a Vocabulary list including examples of how the words and phrases are to be used.
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