The Writeshop process: what good is it?

Writeshop is an intensive participatory process that involves a diverse range of development actors and staff with different skills. Development workers, especially those who work in the field, are often too busy to sit down, reflect and document their field experiences and the outcomes of their work. The writeshop process, which was pioneered by IIRR in the early 1990s, was designed to overcome this critical problem. It brings together several development actors (extension officers, scientists, researchers, and community leaders) together with publication practitioners (authors, editors, artists, and desktop publishing specialists) under one roof to generate the written material needed for a specific book. This is accomplished in a remarkably short period of time. The process is flexible and participatory.

In recent years the process has been adapted to developing proposals, evaluation framework, case studies, position papers, academic textbooks, children’s storybooks, curricula, practical guides, website design and so on.

Writeshops last from 3 to 12 days and could involve 10 to 60 participants depending on size of the publication and complexity of the subject. Larger publications require a relatively long lead-time for planning the content and logistics. IIRR has produced over 100 publications using the writeshop process and has freely shared this process with dozens of organizations who are free to adapt the process for their own use. Click to view publications list

 

Some of the benefits of writeshop
  • It engages a wide range of stakeholders and brings a diversity of perspectives and approaches.
  • Peer review by a heterogeneous group of users (academics, researchers, field workers, and the community) improves quality and relevance (content, layout, presentation).
  • It renders scientific terminology in lay language.
  • Use and ownership of the publication is broadened, thus ensuring follow-up, utilization, translation, and adaptation of the material.
  • It collects busy people who otherwise have no time to write up their research results and findings.
  • Simple, well-illustrated material is produced and finalized in a short period of time before participants depart.
  • It contributes to improving writing and analytical skills and creates an informal network among the participants.
  • It “democratizes” knowledge by giving credit to all who contribute and ensures that the resulting publication is freely available without copyright restrictions, which contributes to its widespread use and dissemination of the product.