How to Survive Group Writing Projects

Top Tips for Successful Teamwork


Image credit: meerkats on Libreshot

People rarely feel neutral about meetings, collaborative projects, and shared presentations. Many have a love/hate relationship with teamwork.

The pros are:

  • Responsibility is shared, and everyone has his or her own role rather than having to do everything oneself.
  • Each person's different ideas and ways of thinking can enrich the work.
  • Work can be divided up according to each team member's strengths.

The cons are:

  • It can be difficult to find time to meet and meetings often are inefficient.
  • Different ways of working and goals can cause tension.
  • It can often happen that not everyone pulls their weight.

As much as the negatives can sometimes seem to outweigh the positives, learning how to work together in a team is an essential life skill. Like it or not, in most work settings most projects will almost always involve other people to some extent.   

So, it's good to develop some strategies before you start. Below you'll find a few simple tips for how to organize your work and what tools you can use.

Schedule recurrent group discussions

Regular communication is the key to a successful group project. If it's too difficult to meet often in person, use online tools to communicate. For example, you can create a Facebook or Threema group. You should only start working after you've agreed on your goals, determined who should do what, and set deadlines for different steps of the project.

Make collaborative writing easy

During your studies, you'll often have to write a collaborative research paper with others.

What's the best way to organize the writing process? There are a few options:

  1. All team members sit in front of a computer. One types and the others contribute.
  2. Each group member writes a section on their own and one of the members collates the documents and performs the final editing at the end.
  3. The document is saved online and everyone works on it simultaneously.

Our personal favorite is number 3.
With this approach there's no need to send files back and forth by email. You can also easily see the progress being made and comment on your peers' work. It's easy to see where changes have been made, too.

One the text is finished, you just need to create the bibliography.  

Find a solution for citation formatting

No one wants to get stuck with the tedious task of formatting a bibliography by hand. When the time comes for someone to volunteer, it’s likely you’ll all avert your gaze like the meerkats in the image above.

However, it’s not as bad as it seems. You can share this work so it doesn't seem so daunting.

If you're using Citavi, create a cloud project at the beginning of your group project and invite your team members to join. Save all of your sources in the cloud project.

Then, team members can insert references into the shared Word document as they write. Just pick a citation style, and Citavi will automatically format the citations and insert a bibliography at the end.

Together We Achieve More

We hope you'll find these tips useful and that they'll help make your next group writing project a success.

We want to know: what's the best (or worst!) team project you ever experienced? What tips do you have for successful teamwork? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.


Further reading:

UNSW Sydney. (2015). Guide to Group Work. Retrieved from


Created by: Jana Behrendt – Published on: 4/4/2018
Tags: Beginning students Teamwork Writing tips

About Jana Behrendt

Jana Behrendt, a librarian by training, is deeply interested in everything related to personal information management. However, she does not read as much as you would expect from a librarian. She loves hiking in the Swiss Alps – as long as she doesn’t have to look down.

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