Writing accountability groups are a tool for academic success: The obesity health disparities pride program

Roland J. Thorpe, Bettina M. Beech, Keith C. Norris, Elizabeth Heitman, Marino A. Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The current hypercompetitive extramural funding environment in the United States emphasizes the critical need for effective research training programs that focus not only on grantsmanship, but on skill development across the full range of research activities, culminating in writing research results for publication. Using Writing Accountability Groups (WAG), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded Obesity Health Disparities (OHD) PRIDE is one of the few research training and mentoring programs that places an equal focus on scientific writing and grant writing. This article reports on the utility of WAGs for OHD PRIDE mentees. Method: Participants included 14 of 26 individuals who were fellows in the OHD PRIDE research training and mentoring program. A typical WAG has between four and eight members who meet for one hour each week over a 10-week period and commit a priori to attend at least 70% of the sessions. Summary statistics were produced to characterize number of peer-reviewed publications, grants, years in academic rank, and category of current academic rank, barriers to frequency of writing, and duration of writing. Results from pre- and post-WAG surveys were compared to determine the overall impact of the WAG. The study period discussed in this article took place between January and December 2017 and included data from three 10-week cycles beginning in February, May, and September. Results: Fifty-three percent of OHD PRIDE participants successfully completed at least one 10-week WAG cycle. The WAGs did not have a statistically significant impact on either the frequency of writing or the duration of writing. However, the majority of the participants who successfully completed at least one WAG cycle reported that they either maintained or increased their frequency or duration of writing. Conclusion: By providing a structured approach to developing and/or enhancing a practice of consistent writing, time management skills, and collaborative relationships, the WAG has promise for enhancing scientific writing skills for many trainees and early-career faculty. Longer term follow-up is needed to more fully assess the potential impact of WAGs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Diversity
  • Obesity Research
  • Research Training and Mentoring
  • Scientific Writing
  • Teaching Intensive Institutions
  • Underrepresented Minority Faculty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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