Letter from the Founder
Dear Colleagues and Students,
At Writing Commons, we continue to be happy with the success of this ever-growing project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful and easily accessible. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free!
This open education project traces its roots back to 2002 with the publication of College Writing Online by Pearson. College Writing Online received the Distinguished Book Award from Computers and Writing in 2003. Because of their focus on traditional print textbooks, Pearson failed to promote the project, and the text languished in obscurity for a few years. Thankfully, Pearson returned copyright to me, and I published the site at CollegeWriting.org in 2008.
Over the years, we have fought hard against the prejudices toward pedagogical work, and we promised writing faculty that we could help them attract a global audience for their teaching ideas. Thankfully, we have made good on our word. Thirty percent of our users come from outside the United States.
Letter from the Editor
Thank you for your support of Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost-free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.
Over the past year, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site. We are pleased to offer resources in the following content areas: Academic Writing, Writing Processes, Rhetoric, Information Literacy, Evidence and Documentation, Research Methods and Methodologies, Style, New Media Communication, Professional and Technical Communication, Creative Writing, and Reviews.
I am also excited to welcome a number of new staff members to our editorial team, and I remain thankful to our returning staff members. We are indebted to the work of Quentin Vieregge, who has worked tirelessly to establish Writing Commons as a global, open-education resource, and we are fortunate to have Quentin remain on staff in the role of Editor Emeritus. Additionally, I want to thank Daniel Richards, our Senior Editor of Professional and Technical Communication, who has been involved with Writing Commons for years and remains a productive and valuable member of our staff. I am also pleased to welcome the following new members to our editorial team: Megan McIntyre, Editor of Academic Writing, Rhetoric, and Writing Processes; Jason Tham, Editor of Information Literacy; Danielle Farrar, Editor of Evidence and Documentation and Style; Christine I. McClure, Editor of Research Methods and Methodologies and New Media Communication; Wesley Dunning, Editor of Creative Writing; and Alaina Tackitt, Assistant Editor of Professional and Technical Communication. Along with the launch of our site redesign, our editors are actively seeking submissions in each category. Please see our Call for Submissions (below) for more information.
I'd also like to thank our dedicated copyeditors, Angela Eward-Mangione, Jennifer Janechek, and Kyle Larson. Additionally, Angela and Jennifer have contributed to the site consistently as authors, columnists, and content developers. I’m also pleased to welcome Alex Watkins and Clayton Benjamin aboard as our new technical editors. I’m so thankful for the contributions of our new and returning staff members, but we still have a few positions left to fill. Please see our Staffing Needs (below) for more information about current positions.
Finally, I want to thank our web developer, Alston Chapman, without whom none of this would be possible. Alston has single-handedly worked on the technical aspects of the site redesign, and we are pleased to highlight Alston and his amazing work in this month’s Staff Member Profile.
Whether you are an instructor, a student, or a professional interested in fine-tuning your writing and communication skills, we hope that you find Writing Commons a useful and valuable resource. Whether you use Writing Commons in your course or to support your own learning, we invite you to contact us and let us know what we are doing well and where we can improve. Feedback from our users helps us to continuously reassess our efforts and ensure that we are serving the needs of our users to the best of our ability.
Thank you for your continued support of Writing Commons, and we look forward to supporting writers across the disciplines for years to come.
Staff Member Profile
Alston is Writing Commons’ Chief Technology Officer, and works as a front-end web developer and digital producer. Originally from Georgia, Alston is currently living in Los Angeles, California. Alston graduated from the University of Georgia and after spending about six months abroad in Barcelona, he returned to the US and moved to Los Angeles.
In his professional life, Alston creates, develops, and manages websites for clients. The vast majority of his work is built using open source content management systems like WordPress and Joomla, and to a lesser extent, Drupal.
In his personal life, Alston very much enjoys soccer and has a couple of adopted street cats that share his apartment and provide great entertainment value compared to what’s spent on food and cleaning supplies. Alston is also a huge foodie and enjoys hosting and cooking for large groups of family and friends.
Along with our redesign, we are pleased to highlight six new publications.
- “Social Media Mythbusters” by Wilma Davidson. In this piece, Davidson addresses and refutes popular myths about social media’s negative influences on writing skills with a particular focus on business writing and professionalism. Davidson’s work would be an excellent addition to a course where students are tasked with using social media platforms for professional writing purposes.
- “Interview with Heather Sellers” by Allyson Hoffman. Hoffman offers an engaging profile of Dr. Heather Sellers, author of The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students. Hoffman’s interview with Sellers provides insight on the writing process, the craft of writing, and the creation of engaging and useful teaching and learning moments in the classroom.
- “Using Parentheses” by Julia McMillian. McMillian clearly identifies situations in which it is appropriate to use parentheses and provides readers with some tips and examples to further understanding. This piece is an excellent resource for students who struggle to understand how to use parentheses or to accompany a lesson on parentheses use.
- “Why Screenwriters Should Not Write to Direct” by Brian Rapp. In this addition to our Creative Writing resources, Rapp delineates the role of screenwriter, focusing on where the role of screenwriter ends and where the role of director begins. Rapp’s work will be a valuable addition to any course in which students produce screenplays or study the roles of screenwriters and directors in film production.
- “Rhetorical Analysis in the Real World: A Useful Thinking Tool” by Phyllis Mentzell Ryder. Using examples from her own personal experiences, Ryder’s piece offers important insight into why rhetorical analysis is a useful tool for citizens to develop and use. This article will be a useful addition to any course in which students are asked to engage in rhetorical analysis as it helps students to understand the value of rhetorical analysis beyond the classroom.
- “A Synthesis of Professor Perspectives on Using First and Third Person in Academic Writing”“A Synthesis of Professor Perspectives on Using First and Third Person in Academic Writing” by Brian Stone. In this piece, Stone addresses common perspectives on the use of first and third person in academic writing. Not only does this piece help students understand why perspectives may vary on the use of first and third person in academic writing, it also provides students guidance in making and understanding narrative mode decisions in their own academic writing.
We are also pleased to announce the release of an updated version of one our existing pieces, “Web Search Strategies” by Christine Photinos. One of Writing Commons’ strengths as an online, open-educational resource is the ability for authors to easily update their materials if they become dated.
Call for Submissions
Generally, submission should be between 500 - 1,000 words and should take advantage of the capabilities offered by the digital space (i.e., the ability to include Creative Commons-licensed images, to embed YouTube files, to hyperlink, etc.). Additionally, we seek submissions that approach topics from the perspective of the “best practices” for understanding an individual task in reflective and productive ways.
- Various genres of academic writing
- Sample assignments
- Peer feedback
- Research paper as genre
- Arguments and counterarguments
- Reflection and writing
- Building common ground
- Analyzing assignments
- Burke’s parlor and academic conversations
- Discourse communities
- Threshold concepts for students
- Key thinkers in the history of rhetoric
- Classical rhetorics
- Rhetorical ecologies
- Feminist Rhetorical Traditions
- Rhetorics of race
- Rhetorics of class
- Creating frameworks for naming/identifying, theorizing, and understanding information literacy in specific contexts (academic, professional, etc.)
- Investigating how the historical, social, technical, technological, economical, and political affect information literacy histories, values, and practices
- Providing up-to-date strategies for developing and maintaining information literacy
- Designing instructional activities/assignment ideas for understanding information literacy
Evidence and Documentation
- Using MLA 8
- Chicago style
- IEEE citation
Research Methods and Methodologies
- Research ethics
- Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods
- Concision and precision
- Concision and wordiness: Minimizing prepositions
- Introductory Phrases
- Cohesion (between sentences)
- Incorporating Lists
- Conjunctive Adverbs (beginning sentences)
- What is voice?
- Active versus passive voices
- Integrating your voice with others
- Hedging and authority: Establishing ethos as a writer
- Second person
- Qualifiers and qualifying
- Adverbs (when description is necessary)
- Importance of understanding sentence-level mechanics
New Media Communication
- Assignment prompts with multimedia deliverables/components
- Using social media/social networking technologies in the classroom
- Digital Portfolios
Professional and Technical Writing
- Document design
- Report writing
- Humor, race, gender, offensive language, death, & violence in creative writing
- Writing about sensitive and/or politically charged subjects/themes
- Characters with racist, misogynistic views
- How to write scenes
- How to write flash fiction/nonfiction
- How to create tension
- What makes a creative work literary? What are the distinctions between quotidian fiction, young adult novels, fantasy, science fiction, horror, fan fiction, etc.?
- What makes a great first sentence
- How to begin a story/poem
- How to end a story/poem
- How to write a title
- When to show and when to tell
- How to develop characters
- How to create subtext
- Using research in creative writing
- Plagiarism in creative writing
- What does revision look like in creative writing
- Dialogue in creative nonfiction?
- Memory in creative nonfiction?
- What makes a poem
- Grammar & punctuation in poetry
- Turns/leaps in poems
- Voice & imitation in poetry
- Forms of poems
- What is meter?
- How does sound create meaning in poetry?
- How does language function in poetry differently than in prose?
- Must poems be autobiographical?
- Interpretations on creative writing maxims/quotes
- "Show, don’t tell." "Make it new." "Imaginary gardens with real toads in them." Etc.
- How to participate in writing workshops/the politics of the writing workshop
- How to provide and accept thoughtful critique? How to talk about/comment on writing
- Talent in creative writing
- How to publish your creative work
- How to publicize and give a reading of your work
- Effective writing prompts to helps students begin/revise
Writing Commons is currently seeking qualified and dedicated individuals to fill the following roles:
- Social Media Manager: Development, implementation, and management of social media campaigns; managing social media interns
- Copyeditors: Copyedit accepted articles prior to publication.
- Interns: Assist editors, social media manager, copyeditors, or web developer. Please indicate interest.
*Please note that Writing Commons operates on an all-volunteer staff.