Research groups follow a variety of models, customized to the interests and predilections of the group members. Below is a non-exhaustive description of group configurations that we have seen over the year and general best practices. This list is meant to inspire you to think of the many forms a research group may take, and to encourage you to select a mode that best matches with your research goals. The possibilities below are not mutually exclusive, but rather offer the possibility of multiple potential configurations.

Research Group Models
  • Reading group: Group members agree upon a selection of readings to discuss throughout the quarter/year. This can be a good model when a group seeks to establish a common vocabulary or gain a shared sense of a field across disciplines. Individuals may rotate leading a discussion, or conversation may be more free-flowing. Essentially, this model replicates the seminar model, but addressing materials and an audience inaccessible in a typical departmental seminar.
  • Work-in-progress sharing: Group members take turns sharing works in progress. This can be an ideal way to push each other toward publication while also gaining a better sense of the scope of each other’s work. This model functions similarly to a writing group. Formats for sharing work can vary; some groups share a full-length article or chapter that requires participants to read in preparation, while others prefer to have participants bring in a shorter section of troublesome writing for group brainstorming. Formats at meetings vary as well, from the highly structured to the free-flowing. Contact the Center if you wish to discuss potential models further.
  • Process: Some research groups choose to focus on particular aspects of the process of doing research and writing, rather than a specific content area. This model opens up the possibility for experimentation and considerations of method and practice across disciplinary divides.
  • Project-based: This model centers group activities around a specific shared project, sometime with the goal of co-publication, planning larger conference or event planning, doing community-engaged work, using digital tools, or other work with a clear direction and potential outcome.
Best Practices
  • Gain a solid commitment for participation from all members, both faculty and graduate students, before submitting the proposal.
  • Let the Center know if your group is open to new members and talk with us about how to spread the word.
  • Schedule research group meetings before the quarter begins. This enables members to make the research group a priority around which subsequent events/commitment will be scheduled.
  • Keep the focus local. Instead of always looking at other universities for speakers, consider inviting scholars on campus or members of your own group to share their work and expertise. This will foster a deep ongoing intellectual engagement, one of the goals of the research group.
  • Consider the abilities of all current and potential group members in planning meetings. If you have questions about how to make your meetings more accessible, please let us know.
  • Check with the Center for the Humanities before making purchases and turn in all reimbursements in a timely fashion. Delays can result in tax consequences for you.
  • Keep a blog or web presence. This can be a helpful record to revisit for future planning. You can make your own or have the Center create one for you. Share the web address for linking. Consider using social media as appropriate to your group’s goals.