Rebecca Hallman, University of Houston
Sherry Wynn Perdue, Oakland University
In this introduction, we share The Peer Review’s vision and mission as well as introduce the unique role of Issue Zero, the editorial team’s gift to potential contributors.
As the founding coeditors of TPR, we are privileged to launch a new venue for writing center scholarship: a peer reviewed, open access, fully online, and multimodal journal to showcase the best scholarship of our field. What are the characteristics of this scholarship? When we presented the editorial team with this question, it didn’t take us long to assemble the following descriptors:
- grounded in theory (or working toward one)
- framed by the extant literature (when appropriate)
- supported with data (collected and analyzed by any number of qualitative or quantitative means)
- presented in a medium that best represents the work.
While we gave significant attention to what would fill the pages of TPR, the journal was conceived to engage, to prepare, and to promote the next generation of writing center scholars and researchers. We understand that rigorous scholarship must be intentionally sponsored, so TPR targets emergent scholars, new professionals, graduate students, undergraduate students, high school writing consultants, and their collaborators. With this publication, we are making a commitment to scaffolding in the form of a two-part review system; the first provided by members of the editorial team and the second conveyed via double blind review—regular works-in-progress sessions, and our inaugural volume, Issue Zero, which anticipates our contributors’ questions and models the scholarship we seek.
Our review process, paired internal and external reviews, reflects another component of our mission: to facilitate collaboration. This collaboration is demonstrated in many forms:
- between novice and experienced scholars
- between authors and designers
- between multilingual and multinational authors.
By placing collaboration at the center of this publication, by modeling it in the editorial structure, and by showcasing it in most contributions to Issue Zero, we seek to challenge the primacy of the single author study penned by a scholar who creates art and science in isolation.
Yes, we’ve committed to an ambitious undertaking and some (including both editors’ dissertation supervisors) have cautioned us to protect our time, but having studied the field and gotten to know our audience’s potential for knowledge making, we are confident that the pages of TPR will be filled with provocative, rigorous scholarship that will further center writing center studies at the heart of academic inquiry.
Before we introduce you to the nuts and bolts of Issue Zero, the editorial board’s attempt to make our expectations and values explicit to potential contributors, we felt readers might appreciate our individual backstories, the moments that gave birth to this publication and to our collaboration as editors.
During the 2014 International Writing Center Association Summer Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, I was thinking about my role as the Graduate Student Representative on the IWCA Board and what I could do to support graduate student researchers in writing centers. Initially, I had the idea of starting a blog that graduate students could post to regularly and use as a space for both scholarly conversation and for building connections across various institutional contexts. I envisioned a venue for active participation in dialogues about current writing center-specific research and administration in which many graduate students are involved. As the sole writing center researcher in my graduate program at the time, I was eager to build community with others doing similar kinds of work. I also knew that there was a wealth of writing center dissertations who were creating new knowledge but not necessarily sharing it via publication with the field at large. While my board position led to my particular focus on graduate students, I eventually broadened the scope of the project to target other writing center researchers whose projects and work we don’t hear from often enough: undergraduate and high school peer tutors, fellows, and consultants.
As I started talking about the idea of creating a graduate student blog with other Summer Institute participants and IWCA board members, it became clear that what I was really interested in here was building scholarly conversations. Eventually, this concept moved from a blog managed by the current IWCA Graduate Student Representative to a scholarly publication supported by an entire organization. The IWCA President Kevin Dvorak’s mentorship, support, and enthusiasm provided me with the confidence I needed to pitch the idea to the IWCA Board at the pre-conference retreat in Orlando last October. I received overwhelming encouragement and excitement. When we shared the idea for The Peer Review publicly a couple days later at the IWCA open meeting in Orlando, Sherry Wynn Perdue introduced herself to me and voiced her interest. I knew of Sherry’s commitment to writing center research and her dedication to collaboration and mentorship, all of which I wanted as central components of the journal. After a pep talk with Kevin, I built up the courage to invite Sherry to collaborate with me as the first co-editing team for the journal. At that point, we started conversations that would bring the idea of The Peer Review into existence. While most scholars promote collaboration and mentorship, I believe that few embody these practices with the utmost commitment in the way that Sherry does. Without her, the journal would not have come to fruition in the way that it has, and I will be forever grateful to her for the time and effort she has given TPR and myself as an emerging scholar and editor in the field of writing center studies.
I could not have imagined the way this journal would come together, or the amazing mentors and colleagues I would meet and have the privilege of working with now and for many years to come. We have an excellent team of Editorial Board Members and Graduate Student Reviewers in place and look forward to adding Undergraduate Student Reviewers in the future. I cannot wait to see what’s to come.
A quick note on the naming of this publication and our use of the term “practitioner” in our journal’s subtitle—
We chose “The Peer Review: A Journal for Writing Center Practitioners” in hopes of explicitly inviting those who are involved in the day-to-day work of meeting with student writers to participate in the field of writing center studies and its scholarly conversations. Despite “practitioners” debatable reputation in the field of composition and writing center studies since North’s The Making of Knowledge in Composition (1987), we acknowledge, as do Liggett, Jordan, and Price (2011), that “reestablish[ing] the value of practitioner inquiry” is a worthwhile pursuit (118). While the work of writing center practitioners is at the heart of what writing centers do and also at the heart of our field’s scholarship, we don’t often hear directly from the voices and perspectives of these researchers themselves, but rather, we hear about them via the voices of their directors. By calling on writing center practitioners as valuable scholars and researchers who have much to offer writing center studies and composition writ large, we welcome collaborative, practitioner-based inquiry scholarship that puts practitioner-scholars (their voices and their visions) first.
At last year’s open meeting of the IWCA board, I found myself riveted as an articulate young scholar shared her vision for a new writing center publication. As Rebecca recounted the process that led to IWCA’s decision to charter its second peer-reviewed journal, I reflected on my evolving relationship to writing center scholarship and the important role that collaboration played in the publication of my first empirical article. Despite an overly cluttered plate, I could not ignore a growing hope that I could play some role in helping her bring this idea to fruition. After all, I’m not new to editing or reviewing. And, Dana Driscoll and I had previously collaborated with three undergraduate writing and rhetoric majors (one of whom is now a doctoral student at Miami University and a member of our editorial team), which yielded a publication in Perspectives in Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, “Negotiating the Sponsorship Continuum: Preparing Humanities Undergraduates to Conduct RAD Research.”
Thankfully, I did not fully comprehend the time and the beautiful aggravation of remotely compiling a new publication when Rebecca honored me with the request that I serve as her co-editor. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed several other overly tasked seasoned and emergent scholars—now members of our editorial board and the graduate review team—make the same commitment. Collectively we have answered emails, proposed topics for Issue Zero, read each others drafts, contributed to an unwieldy Google document, logged in to ever changing web conferencing platforms during the summer, and copy-edited all night to make it happen.
Some of us managed life’s both/ands as we founded this journal and planned its Pittsburgh unveiling. Rebecca and Kelsey got married (not to each other), Enrique and his wife are preparing for their first child, Dana took at new position at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Alexis figured a way to attend the conference and to slip away to fulfill a commitment to her daughters. (Alexis, you are my hero!) Others missed deadlines or disappointed our collaborators. Despite Michael’s best efforts, our collaboration for this issue had to be put on hold because I sustained a head injury. (Thank you, Michael, for being so sensible and gracious. We will publish that heuristic for literature reviews in the next issue. I promise!) Still others are missing pivotal moments as we head to Pittsburgh. Trixie’s adorable toddler will probably have to settle for the comfort of her grandmother’s lap yet again, even when she would prefer that of her mom, and my daughter will prepare for and attend her first formal date-dance without me.
Despite the long hours, brief setbacks, and missed moments, I am so proud to find myself in the company of this editorial team as we now introduce the contents of Issue Zero.
Laying Some Groundwork in Issue Zero
In this first issue, the full editorial team operationalized TPR’s vision and mission. Instead of offering a bulleted list of submission guidelines (some are forthcoming in addition), we elected to demonstrate our advice to potential contributors within our own scholarship, as follows:
First, we begin our issue with three articles focused on researching the writing center. In “Perspectives on Collaborative Scholarship,” Kelsey Hixson-Bowles and Enrique Paz argue for the value of collaboration in research and writing, despite its many challenges, and offer advice from experienced writing center professionals who are dedicated to collaborative scholarship. Following this article are two pieces that focus on writing center research: “Conducting and Composing RAD Research in the Writing Center: A Guide for New Authors” by Dana Driscoll and Roger Powell and “Re(Focusing) Qualitative Methods for Writing Center Research” by Rebecca Hallman and Ezekiel Choffele with Trixie Smith. In the former, Driscoll and Powell provide guidelines for how to effectively conduct and write about replicable, aggregable, and data-supported research. In the latter, Hallman and Choffele with Smith focus specifically on qualitative methods and integrate stories about their own positions as researchers, along with audio clips from interviews with WC scholars, in their presentation of oral history, narrative inquiry, and storytelling as method.
In the second half of Issue Zero, we move our focus toward composing WC research and strategies for transitioning projects into publishable works for academic audiences. In “Continuing the Conversation: From Presentation to Publication” Alexis Hart and Lindsay Sabatino narrate the evolution of their own research from conference papers to scholarly publications in academic journals as well as offer advice for new scholars who are learning how to make this move. With the same transitional process in mind, Blevins, Rice, and Carpenter offer a method for multimodal digital publication in their article, “Designing Scholarly Multimodal Texts: A Peer Review Process.” Then, moving beyond (multimodal) text creation and toward publication- in- process, Braude, Cerku, and Price seek to make explicit the academic peer review process while simultaneously offering advice for writers about how to respond effectively to editors’ and reviewers’ feedback in “Understanding Reviewer Feedback: Guidelines and Explanations.”
Our issue culminates with a “Scholar Spotlight” interview with Harry Denny, conducted and developed by Patricia Medved. In this interview, Medved and Denny discuss the value of academic research and support for student participation in research.
While we realize that research and writing in the writing center often happen at the same time and are constantly re-informing one another, we find it useful to organize our issue in this way so that practitioner-scholars can use the issue to help them depending on where they find themselves in the process.
Liggett, S., Jordan, K., & Price, S. (2011). Mapping knowledge-making in writing center research: A taxonomy of methodologies. The Writing Center Journal, 31(2), 50-88.
North, S. M. (1987). The making of knowledge in composition. New York: Heinemann.
Wynn Perdue, S., Driscoll, D. L., Matthews, J., Paz, E., & Tess, J. (2014). Negotiating the sponsorship continuum: Preparing humanities undergraduates to conduct RAD research. Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring, 3(2). Retrieved from http://blogs.elon.edu/purm/negotiating-the-sponsorship-continuum-preparing-humanities-undergraduates-to-conduct-rad-research-purm-3-2/