About Biology Writes

Biology Writes, an offshoot of the Duke Faculty Write Program, is designed to support all writers in our department.  The primary goals of Biology Writes are to enhance writing productivity, writing self-efficacy, and collegiality related to writing practices.  Offerings include:

  • Writing groups:
    • Accountability Writing Groups (virtual). Participants meet weekly, via Zoom, for a brief (~15 minute) check-in to allow each person to set their writing goals for the week, report their progress from the previous week, and cheer on their colleagues. Writers are more likely to meet their stated goals in their designated timeframe when they check-in regularly with a supportive group of peers.
    • Feedback Writing Groups (in person or online). Participant brings a short piece of writing to share for discussion. Groups typically include 3-4 writers and meet monthly, ideally over a meal. My writing group has been meeting monthly for almost 14 years!
    • Side-by-Side Writing Groups (hybrid). Participants meet regularly at an agreed upon time and place to work on independent writing projects alongside other writers. Arrive with any materials you will need to work on your own writing and write in good company. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and stay for as long as your schedule allows.
    • Online writing groups. Join a small group of Duke faculty, postdocs, and graduate students — and a global community of writers — every weekday morning from 8-9AM for 50 minutes of focused writing hosted by the London Writers’ Salon.
    • Affinity Writing Groups (flexible format). Writing groups can also form around specific topics (e.g., animal behavior), type of writing (e.g., grant proposals or public scholarship), or cohort (e.g., new faculty, graduate students writing their first manuscript, women writers). Email me if you have an idea or want help organizing an affinity writing group.
  • Biology Department 10-day Writing Challenge:  
  • Biology Writing Retreat: In collaboration with Duke’s Faculty Write Program, we will be offering a writing retreat for members of our department. Participants will have an opportunity to set aside dedicated writing time for a project, learn strategies for sustaining writing momentum, and write in the company of others in a comfortable, relaxed space.
  • One-on-one writing consultations :Writing support is available for all writers in the biology department. Click here to schedule a time to meet either in person or virtually. During your 45-minute appointment, we can brainstorm ideas, provide feedback, or do whatever it takes to get your writing moving forward.
  • Writing CoachIf a one-off writing consultation isn’t enough to get your writing moving as quickly and as smoothly as you would like, you may benefit from working with a writing coach. A writing coach can support you through all stages of writing, from brainstorming to publication. Read more about what coaching involves here. Coaching is available either 1:1 and in group sessions, both online and in person but space is limited so click here to get started.
  • Writing repository:   When writing a new type of document, it’s often helpful to see a successful example to get a sense of the structure and content. I will revive the dormant documents repository to showcase successful prelim documents, grant proposals, diversity statements, research statements, teaching statements, cover letters for manuscript submissions, research group standards, etc. Stay tuned for details but start collecting exemplars now!
  • Ask a Writer and other writing resources:   Do you ever wonder what your colleagues write in cover letters when submitting a manuscript? Are you curious how others manage the workload when writing letters of recommendations? Do you have a burning question about dangling participles but didn’t know who to ask? We have answers! Ask a writer is a periodic column in the departmental newsletter in which I will pose your questions to successful authors (in our department and beyond) and publish their responses. Ask your questions by emailing us and check back here to read what the experts have to say.


To make this program a success, we need to hear from you!   What support do you need to become a more productive, confident, and impactful writer?   If you are a member of the Duke Biology Department, please fill out this survey or email us your thoughts and questions.  Thanks in advance!