How do we write with one voice?

Students in A Team

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It's time for your team to bring delegated work and research together. This phase can last the longest, as you will be continually coordinating, informing and collaborating with each other. You need to have frequent check-ins to ensure that each role contributed and each task fulfilled and supported.    

high level of adaptability is required during the integration process. Feedback, communication, and critical thinking are keys to ensuring the "collective voice" is captured.

Tip: Teamwork is not about dividing the same work equally among the team. If each person on a 5 person team writes 300 words to stitch together a 1500 word essay, the most likely outcome will be a Frankenstein paper comprised of differing voices, verb tenses, styles and ideas. A more successful strategy is to build a detailed outline together and then get one person to draft the paper on behalf of the team.

If the team has decided to delegate work, then everybody should be given a chance to clearly sign off on each draft of the project.  This helps ensure transparency and accountability. We suggest at least four drafts. 

  1. Detailed Outline (Everyone) - As a team, review the assignment description, instructions and rubric to ensure your outline will be created in alignment with the assignment requirements. As a team, create a detailed outline of the end product, including a clear statement of opinion/thesis/hypothesis of paper, supporting claims, examples of evidence and credible citations, and conclusion.
  2. Rough Draft (Delegated) - The team's writer creates a rough draft, including detailed text or script based on the detailed outline. Once the draft is complete everyone has a chance to comment on how accurately the rough draft reflects the outline, including the logic, evidence, and sequence of presentation. 
  3. Second Draft (Delegated) - The writer takes the team's feedback from the rough draft and incorporates it into a second draft. Every effort needs to be made to incorporate all feedback. If there is a conflict between elements of the feedback, the entire team should meet to reach agreement before the Good (third) draft is written. Once the 2nd draft is complete, the argument and evidence is fixed and should not be changed unless everyone agrees.
  4. Good Draft (Delegated) - At this point, everyone comments on the formatting, style, and grammar of the project as captured by the 2nd draft. Once again, the editor(s) will do their best to incorporate all feedback; on some issues such as APA citations and program submission guidelines, there are clear standards that must be met, and the editor(s) will use those standards to resolve conflicting pieces of feedback. If the feedback relates to style, the editor(s) will strive to be consistent throughout the presentation. Once these edits have been made, the project goes back to the group for final approval.
  5. Final Draft (Everyone) - For the sake of transparency and accountability, everyone on the team should approve the final draft of the project before handing it in. 

Finally, before submitting, to ensure success, re-visit the assignment description, instructions and rubric to check alignment with the team's final draft. 

Click here to see the Writing Centre's tips for team writing.