MURRAY, Ky. — The College of Humanities and Fine Arts (CHFA) at Murray State University has a cure for writer’s block: an interdisciplinary circle of tenure-track faculty working together to support each other through the grueling process of academic writing.

Drs. Antje Gamble and Rebecca Williams from the department of art and design teamed up with Drs. Rebecca Oliver and Diane Nititham from the department of political science and sociology to form this peer group as part of the CHFA Research Circle program, an initiative that affords faculty opportunities to collaborate on projects and cultivate continued academic growth. With a grant from the college, the four scholars embarked on a writer’s retreat to Louisville where they spent three days working solely on their publication drafts. The circle met at the beginning and end of each day to set goals and discuss progress.

“I am really grateful that the college supported our research with this grant,” Williams said, adding that she completed and submitted an article for review as a result of the circle project. “It provided me with a great opportunity to connect with other tenure-track faculty from different departments and to support one another with advancing our research while also balancing our other work and life commitments.”

Their circle focused on accountability and was created to help the scholars give each other encouragement and to enforce deadlines. All four participants are working toward tenure with publications required for their advancement. The circle allowed them to keep each other on track and to read drafts with a layman’s, instead of an expert’s, gaze. If a reader from a different academic discipline can read and understand the paper, after all, the author can be assured the publication is not overly complicated or held down by technical jargon.

Gamble said she drafted an article about an art exhibit from the 1950s showcasing Italian architecture and sculpture during the retreat. Now that her article is ready for publication, she plans to send it to a top-tier journal for review in fall 2018.

“It was the discussions about producing, writing, motivating, editing and also structuring arguments that my colleagues contributed to rather than content from their specific areas of research expertise,” Gamble said.

Four professors sit around tables with their laptops out.
The College of Humanities and Fine Arts at Murray State University has a cure for writer’s block: an interdisciplinary circle of tenure-track faculty working together to support each other through the grueling process of academic writing. Pictured (left to right): Drs. Antje Gamble, Rebecca Oliver, Diane Nititham and Rebecca Williams.
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