Writing Process Research Project


Using our readings on the writing process and writing process research ,  you will study the process of a writer working on a writing project. You can study yourself, or you can study another person.

Consent form templates, which you MUST use if you study another person:

Research Tools & Technical Support: see companion page 1

Documentation Guidelines: see companion page 2


Assignment Description:

As described in our course readings, writing process research has focused on different parts of the writing process and used different methods, which allow researchers to learn different things about how writing happens. Based on the writing task you choose to study, you’ll choose 1 empirical method to use and gather data about it. Using the methods modeled in our course readings, you’ll investigate what your data shows about how thiswriting task was accomplished, comparing your findings to those in the scholarly literature.

The purpose of this assignment is 3-fold:

  • to give you a deeper understanding of writing process research
  • to give you experience collecting and analyzing empirical data about writing (a major type of research in writing studies)
  • to get you thinking critically about the relationship between research design and research findings, the generalizability of empirical research findings, ethics applying to writing research involving human subjects, etc

Your report on your research project will include 3 parts + works cited list:


  • explains the person and task being studied
  • describes the research site
  • describes the method of data collection you used and explains why you choose this method

Presentation of Findings: what you learned about this writing process based on your research

  • what writing process activities did the writer use?
  • how well did these activities work? how do you know?
  • how do this writer’s behaviors or habits compare to writing studies scholars’ descriptions of or recommendations for the writing process?
  • this section must incorporate significant references to course readings on writing process/writing process research (secondary sources) and be based on primary evidence drawn from your empirical research.
  • empirical research data can be incorporated as multimedia (images, video/audio clips) or as written text (transcripts, detailed descriptions, etc)

Empirical Methods: Choose a specific method

  • Observation notes
  • recording video, audio or photos
  • Post-writing interview
  • If another empirical method you are interested in, ask me via email.

Critical Reflection: what you learned about empirical research in writing studies

  • what kind of evidence did your data collection methods provide? was there any evidence you wanted, but didn’t have? if you were going to re-do this study, what (if anything) would you do differently, knowing what you know now?
  • to what extent can your findings be generalized to tell other teachers or researchers something novel about the writing process? what limits are there to the generalizability of your findings? why?
  • what ethical questions and/or privacy concerns came up during the course of this research? did you have to address any concerns of your research participant? did you take any steps to preserve research participant privacy? what tensions do you see in this type of research between deep/valuable data and research ethics/participant privacy?

Works Cited page –MLA format

  • cite secondary sources
  • credit/annotate primary source (interviews, photographs, etc)

Submission Instructions:

  • Compose assignment on a new page on your blog (instructions for adding a new page to your blog: http://en.support.wordpress.com/pages/)
  • If you studied another person’s writing process, include their signed consent form as a file embedded in your assignment blog page (how to files in WordPress blog pages: http://youtu.be/_-PKM9eXj9Q).
    • To digitize the signed consent form, you can use the copiers in the library to create a pdf version or take a photo of the signed form
  • Submit page URL to Camino assignment dropbox
  • Length: 600-1200 words (written report only, excluding citations and trascripts etc. from primary data)
  • Due: February 26, before class (2:00pm)

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