The “Write” Conditions: How to Overcome Writing for Publication Barriers through Academic Development


  • Donna Bridges Charles Sturt University
  • Gabrielle Drake University of Western Sydney
  • Robyn North University of Western Sydney
  • Michael Houlbrook University of Western Sydney
  • Jane Mears University of Western Sydney


Social work, Human services, Writers' groups, Reflection, Academic development, Writing for publication programs


Writing for publication is an important measure of individual performance for academics. However, academics in the applied disciplines of social work and the human services often struggle to consistently achieve in this area. Professional development programs that facilitate writing for publication are increasingly common; however, these are often one-off endeavours that focus on early-career researchers. We argue that, where academics have practitioner back- grounds, writing for publication programs that teach writing skills and build supportive, collegial writing communities are vital. In this article we reflect on a writing for publication program for social work academics. Our reflections contribute to further understandings about the barriers academics face in terms of writing and how these might be overcome.

Participants in the group identified writing barriers that included time constraints and competing demands; fear and anxiety; and, importantly, a significant disconnection between corporate university agendas and the social justice focus of the discipline. We found that the writing group and the writing retreat increased publication output and the supportive, collegial writing community helped to overcome structural and psychosocial barriers.

These reflections point to there being an imperative to provide structured and institutionally legitimised writing for publication programs for social work and human service academics.

Author Biographies

Donna Bridges, Charles Sturt University

School of Humanities and Social Science

Gabrielle Drake, University of Western Sydney

School of Social Science and Psychology

Robyn North, University of Western Sydney

School of Social Science and Psychology

Michael Houlbrook, University of Western Sydney

School of Social Science and Psychology

Jane Mears, University of Western Sydney

School of Social Science and Psychology


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