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Framework for Working with an Accountability Partner

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


Suggestions from Amy Benson Brown

Academic Writing & Publication Coaching





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Framework for Working with an Accountability Partner
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Set a regular weekly time for a ½ hour check- in over Zoom with a friend or colleague who is also trying to make progress on their research projects. For example, perhaps you set a weekly meeting like Fridays at 3 PM EST. The aim is to articulate to each other in that meeting what your goals are for your research project for the next 7 days. Think both in terms of the time you plan to spend on the project and specific things you want to accomplish. And then follow-up the next week to share how your writing time actually went and set goals for the coming week. Plan to split the meeting time equally between the two partners.


Just a reminder about setting SMART goals each week:

To work, goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-framed. Do this planning about your goals before your check-in meeting with your accountability partner. Here are 3 examples of SMART goals for different kinds or stages of academic writing.

* This week I’m going to write 1 section of my chapter; and I plan to do that over 8 hours, working from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thurs. *This week I’m setting aside Sunday afternoon, Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon to work for a total of 6 hours on my project. I’m going to review my data in the first session, then free-write for the next two sessions about possibilities for interpreting it and make a list of what else I may want to read to help me frame this data.

*This week I’m going to finally get back to that Revise and Resubmit article. My goal is to review all the peer reviewers’ feedback and create a Word document where I organize their responses by section. From 8:00—9:30 on Monday and Wednesday, I’ll create that doc and organize their responses. From 8:00—9:30 on Thursday and Friday, I’ll add into each section what changes I think I will actually make. I may not be able to finish this last task on Friday, but I’ll just get as far as I can in figuring out how I want to respond.


If you like, you might also in your weekly meeting with your accountability partner want to voice an intention for your mindset. For instance, here’s a list of things that some authors that I work with say about how they want to approach writing sessions.

*Letting go of perfectionism.

*Just taking the prose up to the next level in revision.

*Remembering the big picture of my life.

*Remembering the big picture of my argument. *Putting the Why before the What (remembering to motivate the argument).

*Writing in an “Argument Forward” mode. Or, “Just say it.”

*Aiming to simply get something on the page: writing ugly before writing pretty. *Slowing down to explain: thinking about the naïve reader. *Remembering that the priority is evidence and fleshing it out, before polishing phrasing.


Finally, talk through your next steps. Take a minute to reflect about what chunk of writing work you want to tackle in the coming week.



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