Special issues

The Journal of Writing Research welcomes proposals for special issues within the scope of the journal. Please, download the 'procedure for special issues’ for more details.



Written performance operating units

Linguistic and behavioral markers


Guest editors  

Georgeta Cislaru | Paris Nanterre University

Claire Doquet | University Bordeaux

Thierry Olive | CNRS – Poitiers University


Written language production involves incremental linearization constrained in space and time. Handwriting recording and keystroke logging give insight into this process: to form coherent texts, writers generate and manipulate linguistic strings of varying sizes and kinds (Kaufer et al. 1986; Sullivan & Lindgren 2006; Hayes 2009). These include not only linear completion of the ongoing text but also non-linearity due to revision of the immediately preceding or more distant text. Thus, during writing, the flow of language production is segmented both by significant pauses which isolate bursts of written language and by rewriting events such as substitution, deletion, displacement, etc. Bursts, which are heterogenous sequences, as well as revision episodes, can be considered written performance operating units.

In the analysis of the writing process, the alignment between linguistic aspects and behavioral data remains to be developed. While performance units seem to be the raw material for any language production, previous findings in speech (Gee & Grosjean, 1983) and writing (Doquet, 2011; Cislaru & Olive, 2018) showed that these units are not fully accountable for by traditional syntactic theories and require specific linguistic and psycholinguistic models. Studying performance operating units, their forms and functions, can help to capture the textualization process.

The aim of this special issue is to help unravel the rules and layout regularities that structure language flow in a formally and semantically valid text, and the combinatorial strategies used by writers in various contexts and discourse genres. For example…

  • What types of units constitute the linguistic material for writing and rewriting?
  • What linguistic categories better qualify for grasping this material, or do we need instead to construct/craft new categories?
  • How do deleted and embedded sequences interact with production bursts through the textualization process?
  • Can we identify projection or priming relations, observe routine sequences/combinations of events or contents, check the regular segmentation of written performance units?

Answering these and other related questions is crucial for a better understanding of the textualization process, since texts as a product constitute the result of processes that work out written performance operating units.

We invite empirical, review or methods papers that develop understanding of written performance operating units. Papers may focus on production and/or revision segmentation, on any writing genre or task, and in any writing medium, and with participants of any age. We welcome papers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Review papers must make a theoretical contribution via a comprehensive, critical review of relevant existing literature. Methods papers should make the contribution of a new method and illustrate its use with real data.



Georgeta Cislaru <georgeta.cislaru@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr>


Publication timeline

- Abstract submission (via contact): June 15, 2023

- Abstract decision: June 30, 2023

- Paper submission: December 10, 2023 (extended deadline) - Mention SIPU as the first word in the title.

- Editorial decision: January 15, 2024

- Submission of revised versions: February 28, 2024

- Final decision: March-April 2024

- Publication: June 2024



Cislaru G., Olive T. 2018. Le processus de textualisation. Bruxelles: De Boeck.

Doquet, C. 2011. L’écriture débutante. Pratiques scripturales à l’école élémentaire. Rennes, PUR.

Gee, J. P., Grosjean, F. 1983. Performance structures: a psycholinguistic and linguistic appraisal. Cognitive Psychology 15, 411-458.

Hayes, J. R. (2009). Chapter 4: From Idea to Text. In D. Myhill (Ed.), The Sage Handbook of Writing Development (pp. 65-79). London: SAGE Publications.

Kaufer D., Hayes J. R., Flower L. 1986. Composing written sentences. Research in the Teaching of English 20: 121-140.

Sullivan, K., Lindgren, E. (eds). 2006. Computer Keystroke Logging and Writing: Methods and applications. In G. Rijlaarsdam (Series ed.) Studies in Writing 18. Amsterdam: Elsevier.



Developing writing across and in school subjects
Guest editors: Sara Routarinne, Riitta Juvonen, Arja Kaasinen and Anne-Elina Salo
Universities of Turku and Helsinki, Finland

Basic education (primary and lower secondary school, K-9) builds the foundations for several later competencies, including writing abilities for a range of different contexts, and comprises evolving knowledge regarding discipline-specific discourses, genres, and writing practices. Providing a solid basis for developing these competencies involves understanding discipline-specific literacy strategies and developing subject-specific writing abilities (Klein et al., 2014; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2014).

While there is extensive research on disciplinary writing in upper secondary school and especially in higher education, a growing body of research has focused on primary education. The approach of writing to learn from primary through secondary education (grades 1-12) has shown that writing in the disciplines enhances learning (Graham et al., 2020). By contrast, in the field of modeling pedagogies, the focus has been on strengthening discipline-specific writing abilities alongside contextual language learning (Rose & Martin, 2012; Schleppegrell, 2004). These approaches have recognized tension between teaching writing as a generic skillset as opposed to discipline-specific writing practices. In primary education, the topic is essential.

This special issue aims to contribute to the field by focusing on disciplinary writing development in its initial stages during the primary or lower secondary education (approximately ages 5 to 15). In the contexts of social studies, science, environmental studies, design, etc., students produce various longer and shorter texts, notes, and reports, but we have only scarce knowledge of how these genres emerge in varying classroom contexts.

This special issue welcomes empirical studies that examine writing across and in school subjects and/or disciplines in basic education. The aim is to cover three perspectives:

    1. The analysis of (emerging) genres in student text production within different school subjects
    2. The production of subject-specific genres in social (and collaborative) classroom practices
    3. The trajectories of development of subject-specific writing abilities or practices

Through these perspectives, this special issue aims to deepen our understanding of the complexities and dynamics involved in developing discipline-specific writing abilities. We are seeking studies that have a solid theoretical basis and make use of robust research methods. The approaches may be either qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. The contributions should fit at least one of the above perspectives, but research combining these are especially valued. This special issue provides implications for both educational practice and writing research.


Technology-Based Writing Instruction: A Collection of Effective Tools

Guest editor: Teresa Limpo, Andreia Nunes, and António Coelho
University of Porto & INESC TEC, Portugal

In the last years, there has been a fast and impressive increase in the development of technology in the field of writing research. Indeed, there are more and more tools being developed and tested as aids to those interested in fostering the teaching of writing. Technology-based instruction tools support the teaching and learning of writing by facilitating the enactment of specific writing processes, providing online feedback, and enhancing writers’ motivation (e.g., Berninger, Nagy, Tanimoto, & Thompson, 2015).

This Special Issue aims to gather a set of writing tools to promote writing from pre-school to university, across varied contexts. Presented tools are expected to have empirical evidence on their effectiveness to promote writing, which should be clearly presented by authors. The Special Issue will also give authors the opportunity to provide a detailed view of their tools, and the option to include a digital component, such as videos or demos. By showing a useful collection of technology-based writing tools, this Special Issue is expected to become a relevant reference in the writing research field, from both basic and applied viewpoints. It will display an array of the available valid options to promote writing through technology. Furthermore, it will prompt other researchers to build on those tools and provide further evidence on their validity as well as expand their use to other contexts. The Journal of Writing Research will be a particularly suitable outlet for this Special Issue due to its open-access nature, which will surely be critical to scale up the use of technologies either in the laboratory or in the classroom.

To foster coherence within the issue and comparison across tools, each paper will be structured similarly: (i) short introduction to the tool and theoretical basis; (ii) detailed presentation of the tool; (iii) empirical study reporting on its effectiveness; and (iv) indications for future developments. Manuscripts will be desk rejected if they present neither a writing tool nor any kind of empirical data showing the effectiveness of the tool.


Promoting metacognitive strategy-focused instruction for EFL/L2 writing:
Orientation, practice, and performance

Guest editor: Mark Feng Teng, Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

Learning to write is a complex, recursive, and strategic process that requires metacognitive competencies (Yves, 2017). Over the past few decades, language educators and researchers worldwide have called for changes in the way the writing skill is taught in schools. The rationale behind applying strategy-focused writing instructions include the interconnection between writing and metacognition. Metacognition refers to a higher order of thinking, which involves an active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning (Flavell, 1979). Instruction on metacognitive strategy facilitated learners to develop and evaluate arguments as well as select and use various syntactic representations (Negretti, 2012).
For example, metacognitive strategy-based training strongly improved the writing performance for Vietnamese students (Nguyen & Gu, 2013). A combination of text structure application strategy, summarization strategy, and self-monitoring strategy enhanced the text quality of German students (Wischgoll, 2016). The metacognitive strategies, e.g., monitoring and evaluating, provided in a cooperative learning setting enhanced the writing performance of Chinese students (Teng, 2016).
Therefore, metacognitive strategies, such as reviewing, monitoring, and evaluating, facilitate the tracking of the writing process and deciding the process of aligning these very strategies for creating the intended writing output. However, EFL/L2 students lack linguistic competence and cultural knowledge, which may hinder their effective use of strategies.
Instruction on metacognitive strategies may present a different scenario for EFL/L2 learners than native speakers. Hence, infusing praxis-based metacognitive strategy instruction into empirical investigations is sorely needed in the context of learning to write for EFL/L2 learners. Through process and intervention studies in different EFL/L2 contexts this special issue will describe research that develops understanding of the role of metacognition in second language writing and how it can be trained.

How to report instructional interventions in writing research?
Guest editors: Fien De Smedt (Ghent University | Belgium) & Renske Bouwer (University of Antwerp | Belgium)

To improve students’ writing skills, instructional programs should consider both the focus of instruction (i.e., what is taught) and the mode of instruction (i.e., how it is taught). In research on effective writing instruction, numerous meta-analyses have already identified several effective writing interventions (e.g., Graham & Perin, 2007; Koster, Tribushinina, de Jong, & van den Bergh, 2015). However, these interventions are often described rather broadly and therefore it is difficult to gain insight into the crucial ingredients determining the effectiveness of an intervention (Graham & Harris, 2014; Rijlaarsdam, Janssen, Rietdijk, & Van Weijen, 2016).

Getting grip on the content of evidence-based writing programs is important in two ways. First, in light of replication, instructional writing researchers need to know how to operationalize the focus and mode of instruction. Second, in light of dissemination and implementation in educational writing practice, evidence based writing practices should be clearly translated into teaching and learning activities.

To move the field of research on writing instruction forward, it is of high importance that writing interventions are reported in a more systematic way, by establishing a set of principles to report interventions in writing research. For instance, Rijlaarsdam et al. (2016) designed a reporting system in which researchers are asked to identify and specify:
(a) design principles,
(b) learning activities, and
(c) instructional activities underlying the learning activities.

In this way, the transparency of the independent variable in writing intervention studies is improved, which facilitates the communication, comparison, and replication of writing interventions.

The aim of this special issue is to establish a blueprint on how to report writing intervention studies in research papers. We invite a broad range of intervention studies aimed at learning to write to provide an analytic description of how didactical principles are operationalized into an instructional writing program. We are specifically interested in intervention studies from different countries, including different didactical practices (e.g., strategy instruction, peer interaction, genre instruction, observational learning), different types of students (e.g., struggling writers, regular writers, L1/L2 learners), and different contexts (e.g., primary or secondary grades, academic writing, professional writing).


Towards a blueprint for successful collaborative writing in educational and professional settings
Guest editor: Elke Van Steendam, Faculty of Applied Linguistics, KULeuven, Campus Brussels

Peer collaboration in writing has been shown to be effective for Learning to Write and Writing to Learn (Graham, McKeown, Kiuhara, & Harris, 2012; MacArthur, Schwartz, & Graham, 1991; Onrubia & Engel, 2009; Storch, 2005; Yarrow &Topping, 2001). That is why collaborative writing is often implemented in educational contexts. However, not only in educational contexts but also in professional contexts (academia, policy making, administration, journalism) collaborative writing has become common practice. Very frequently, written documents are the end-product of a collaborative process involving multiple actors, writers and readers ( e.g. research articles; group proposals, public policy documents; journalistic texts (Perrin, 2011; Lowry, Albrecht, Nunanmaker, & Lee, 2003; Sleurs, Jacobs, & Van Waes, 2003).

However, for peer collaboration to have a positive effect on either writing or learning outcomes, a few conditions need to be met. One of the crucial factors determining the effectiveness of peer collaboration in revision in an educational context for example is instruction and/or support (Min, 2005; Van Steendam, Rijlaarsdam, Sercu, & Van den Bergh, 2010). Another important component for peer collaboration in writing may be group composition (Patchan, Hawk, Stevens, & Schunn, 2012; Van Steendam, Rijlaarsdam, & Van den Bergh in press).

It is the complex interplay of individual, collaborative and contextual factors in collaborative writing and revision that we want to look at in this special issue. More specifically, the special issue aims at providing an overview of the most recent findings about collaborative writing and revision. Collaboration is conceptualized as either pupils or students, from primary school children to higher education students, or adult professionals writing (planning, composing, revising) collaboratively, either in a face-to-face context or online (via e-learning). We welcome both quantitative and qualitative studies that investigate peer collaboration in the context of writing (planning, drafting, revising) in three domains: Learning to Write in L1 and L2, Writing to Learn and Workplace Writing (technical and professional communication). Studies on Learning to Write and Workplace Writing should include the effect of peer collaboration on the writing product and/or writing process and writing-to-learn studies should (also) test the effect on learning processes and/or outcomes (domain knowledge). Additionally, also studies which shed light on methodological issues are invited. Ideally, the different contributions will result in a blueprint for effective and efficient collaborative writing.

We are especially interested in studies investigating one or more of the following:
1) effective instructional strategies and/or scripting in collaborative writing;
2) (effective) interaction (interactional patterns) in collaborative writing;
3) effects of group composition in collaborative writing;
4) effects of individual characteristics in collaborative writing;
5) effects of task (e.g. task complexity) on collaboration processes and quality of processes and the resulting writing product;
6) any combination of one or more of the previous factors.

For more information download the pdf or contact the guest editor: Elke Van Steendam, KULeuven - Belgium. >


Intervention studies in writing-to-learn: Effects on comprehension, domain-specific learning outcomes and meaning making processes
Writing-to-learn refers to the act of writing as learning activity aimed at increasing students’ learning in content areas. The premise of writing-to-learn is that writing is not a communicative tool only, but also an epistemological tool for acquiring knowledge, developing understanding, and improving thinking skills. This ‘learning through writing’ can be applied in all subject areas – ranging from science to literature – and at various educational levels. This special issue presents contemporary research about writing as a learning activity and aims at providing an overview of effective use of writing to enhance learning. It also focuses on the implications for educational practice: how can the results of the intervention studies be applied in classrooms?

The papers in this special issue address three themes:
1) Intervention studies that examine the effects of writing on different forms of comprehension in various subject areas (e.g., biology, philology).
2) Intervention studies in several subject areas that examine the effects of writing on different learning outcomes (e.g., historical reasoning, science learning).
3) Studies on meaning making processes that address constructing patterns of meaning while writing and give for instance insight how the meaning making process is influenced by the language of writing and by type of planning procedure.

For more information you can contact the guest editors: Martine Braaksma or Gert Rijlaarsdam, University of Amsterdam


Special issue: Writing and Translation process research - Bridging the gap
During the past decades, a lot of research on text-production processes has been carried out in the disciplines of writing and translation. Theoretical reflections about both the internal cognitive processes and the external processes of both disciplines have helped understanding how writers and translators work and think from the moment they receive the task till the final text product is reached.
The research which has been carried out in the two fields shows that there is a notion of commonalities between them. Both in the results reached and in the methods applied.
From an ontogenetical perspective, writing and translation share typical features of process organization, such as knowledge acquisition, planning, composition and validation. When taking a close look at the process phases, one finds identical process elements such as the main stages of the processes. From a sociological perspective, both disciplines draw on similar resources and aids and extrinsic motivational cues are similar in both fields.
From a methodological perspective, a number of research methods, such as key-stroke logging, screen capture, eye tracking, verbalization, observation and retrospection, has been applied in both fields in research settings resulting in data sets for both qualitative and quantitative analysis. In spite of these similarities, it still appears that little work has been done at the intersection between the two fields to make these similarities explicit.

In order to close this gap, we invite contributions from the two disciplines that can help enlightening and bridging the overlap and, thus, bridge the gap between them. Contributions can present empirical work and results, conceptual/theoretical analysis or methodological issues.

For more information: Helle Dam-Jensen or Carmen Heine, Aarhus School of Business, Denmark


Special Issue: Redesigning Peer Review Interactions Using Computer Tools
Peer review has long been a component of writing education, although often informally implemented in classrooms with mixed results. More recently, web technologies have enabled more regular use of formal peer review methods in a broad cross-section of classes across many disciplines. This transition enables computers to play new roles in writing, now supporting the peer review process rather than just the writing process. With new computer tools, for example, the following elements can be changed: how reviewers are matched with authors, how reviewers interact with each other, how reviewers interact with authors, how instructors interact with reviews, how instructors interact with other instructors about writing assignments, and how authors provide feedback on the reviews.
Submissions are to be made through the online system for the Journal. Include "Special Issue-Peer Review" at the front of the paper title.

More information about the guest editors:
Christian Schunn | Kevin Ashley - University of Pittsburgh | Ilya Goldin - Carnegie Mellon


Special issue: Gender and Writing
You are invited to submit a 1000-word proposal for reports of empirical studies, conceptual papers, review papers, or meta-analyses that approach the topic of gender and writing from a range of disciplines (e.g., social, cognitive, developmental and educational psychology, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and applied linguistics, learning and teaching, information and communication technology, etc.). Examples of possible themes are:
1) theoretical perspectives in gender in writing research
2) research on gender and writing using a socio-cultural theoretical lens
3) gender comparisons of writing using cognitive and developmental lenses
4) research on gender and writing using applied linguistics lenses
5) gender research with respect to the teaching and assessing of writing
6) gender research on writing using information and communication technology

For more information, please contact the guest editors of this special issue, Judy Parr (University of Auckland | New Zealand) and Shelley Stagg Peterson (University of Toronto | Canada).

Special issue: Exploring a Corpus-Informed Approach to L1 Writing Research
Publication expected: Summer 2010

Corpus methods are new to the field of L1 writing research and there has been no comprehensive discussion of the work in this area. The aim of this special JoWR issue, therefore, is to bring together teachers and researchers from a myriad of perspectives in an effort to explore the emerging field of corpus-informed L1 writing research.

We invite papers covering a range of related topics, including discussions of the development of large, small, and parallel writing corpora; papers exploring the kinds of questions examined via corpus research (e.g. diction and style, citation practices, usage, stylistic variation and its relationship to author gender, etc.); papers examining corpus methods (e.g. frequency lists, concordancing, examination of sociolinguistic variables, etc.) in the context of L1 writing research; explanations of current and ongoing research; as well as discussions of the critiques surrounding a corpus-informed approach to L1 writing research and the corpus-inclined researcher's response to them. Authors are asked to write papers for a broad audience including readers with little or no corpus study familiarity.

Guest editor: Stephanie A. Schlitz, Assistant Professor, Bloomsburg, PA