Academic Writing Groups in Higher Education: History and State of Play

Catherine E. Déri, Émilie Tremblay-Wragg, Sara Mathieu-C.


Over the past twenty years, graduate studies have seen significant growth, with student numbers more than doubling worldwide. Unfortunately, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development continues to report dropout rates averaging 50% for PhD and 40% for master’s programs, in all disciplines combined. Among the reasons quoted for abandoning study programs are deficient academic writing competencies that could not only hinder how graduate students progress through their academic journey, but also how they integrate with the scientific community as novice scholars. Accordingly, this article will present an overview of studies related to academic writing groups, which have been identified as one of the strategies to benefit graduate studies. Based on a systematic literature review, we present a chronological account of key issues and concepts that have influenced the phenomenon throughout history. Thereafter, we explain the various characteristics of academic writing groups in order to delineate this phenomenon through the description of its inherent elements and propose an all-encompassing definition. The analysis of 72 documentary sources also allows the observation of trends through the examination of geographical, disciplinary, and methodological factors drawn from scholarly publications. Finally, we highlight considerations for future exploration of academic writing groups used as a pedagogical strategy in the context of higher education, from disciplinary, sociocultural, and gender perspectives.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Catherine E. Déri, Émilie Tremblay-Wragg, Sara Mathieu-C.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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