Writing Support Group for Medical School Faculty—A Simple Way to Do It

Barry D. Weiss, Barbara J. Stillwater, Sommer Aldulaimi, James K. Cunningham, Francine C. Gachupin, Jerome Koleski, Yumi Shirai, Lee Anne Denny, Jessie M. Pettit, Joshua Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem: Writing for publication is a core activity for many medical school faculty, but faculty report numerous challenges to publication. To help address these challenges, some medical schools establish writing support programs, but those programs are often resource-intensive, involving didactic courses, accountability groups, formal mentorships, and even assistance from professional writers. Not all medical schools, however, provide resources for such programs, and many faculty members, especially clinicians, lack time needed to participate. Furthermore, success of these programs is typically judged by the total number of papers published. However, many clinicians would judge success as publication of the occasional papers they decide to write, not the total number of papers they or the group publish. With these issues in mind, we established a low-resource writing program focused on individual acceptance rates rather than total publications. Intervention: Our writing program is an informal group that meets monthly. Members bring their ideas for papers and drafts of papers, and other members provide critique and suggestions for improvement. Members then revise their papers to address that critique prior to journal submission. There are no formal or assigned mentors, courses, lectures, or writing assistants. Context: The program takes place in our family medicine department, in which faculty have various roles. Some group members are clinician-educators seeking to publish occasional clinical reviews or research articles; others are PhDs seeking to publish on aspects of their work. Impact: During the six years of the program, 86% of papers reviewed by the group were accepted for publication and 94% of those were accepted by the journal to which they were first submitted. Publication success rate of individual members averaged 79%. This exceeds the 30–40% acceptance rate for scholarly journals worldwide. Group members published an average of 5.2 papers per member, with some publishing as few as 2–3 papers and others as many as 10–11. Lessons Learned: An informal, low-resource writing program in medical school departments can help faculty reach their publication goals. We found that members were satisfied by having the group help them publish whatever number of papers they decided to write. The program’s simple, informal approach fostered a culture of respectful and collegial interactions, in which members learned to depend on and accept critiques from colleagues. Finally, an unexpected benefit of our program resulted from membership of both clinicians and non-clinicians. This provided feedback from individuals with different perspectives, which enhanced development of manuscripts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-608
Number of pages8
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023


  • Publications
  • authorship
  • medical school
  • publishing
  • writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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