Producing information materials can take a long time - you have
to write the drafts, edit the text, prepare illustrations and lay out the publication. The
resulting prototype is then reviewed by specialists in the subject matter, before final
revisions are made. Manuscripts get lost, authors and reviewers may disagree, and people
cannot be contacted easily. The process can seem never-ending.
There are several ways of producing information
materials. One of these is through writeshops (intensive
workshops to write information materials). These are especially useful
because they speed up the production and make it far more efficient. The aim is to develop
the materials, revise and put them into final form as quickly as possible, taking full
advantage of the expertise of the various writeshop participants.
pioneered at the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
in the Philippines. To date, over 50 writeshops have been used to
produce information materials on various topics relating to agriculture, the environment
Writeshop participants may include scientists, researchers,
government personnel, teachers, NGO staff, extension agents, farmers and other local
people. The diversity of skills, organizations and backgrounds of participants is key to
ensuring that numerous ideas are represented in the materials produced. Members of the
intended audience (e.g., teachers, farmers and extension personnel) can
help pre-test the text and illustrations during the writeshop.
process is very
different from the scientific conferences familiar to many participants. It is an
extremely flexible process. The repeated presentations, critiquing and
revision of drafts allow for papers to be reviewed and revised substantially, new topics
to be developed during the writeshop and topics to be combined, dropped or split into
Early in the writeshop, the participants brainstorm ideas for new topics (other
than those already prepared) that should be part of the publication. These new topics are
assigned to knowledgeable participants for development and presentation during the
The writeshop allows inputs from all participants to be
incorporated, taking advantage of the diverse experience and expertise of all present. It
allows ideas to be validated by a range of experts in the field. The
concentration of resource persons, editors, artists and desktop-publishing resources at
one time and place enables materials to be produced far more quickly than
is typical for similar publications. And the sharing of experiences among
participants develops networks that continue to be fruitful long after the writeshop
|The publication resulting from the
writeshop can be in any of a range of formats: loose-leaf, a
set of pocket-sized booklets, or a bound book. The format and design can be set beforehand
- or decided by the participants during the writeshop itself.
The broad theme is divided into smaller topics, each of which is based on a
manuscript prepared by a writeshop participant. Some examples:
- Storing seeds (in a booklet on agroforestry)
- Wounds and burns (in a book on traditional veterinary medicine
- Growing cardamom (one of a series of extension leaflets on
upland agriculture in Vietnam).
||Each topic contains line drawings to illustrate
key points. These are drawn during the writeshop itself, and participants are asked to
check the drawings for accuracy and ease of understanding.
The publication contains only relevant and practical information.
It is not a vehicle for lengthy literature reviews or for presentation of unnecessarily
detailed data. Whenever possible, it provides technological options that show more than
one way of doing the same thing.
See the following for more:
- Mundy, Paul. 2010. Writeshops, oh writeshops (poem)
- Mundy, Paul. 2010.
Adapting the writeshop process. PowerPoint
- Mundy, Paul. 2010.
Using writeshops to produce policy briefs. PowerPoint
- Mundy, Paul. 2010.
Using writeshops to teach writing. Poster.
- Mundy, Paul, and Anna K. Lindqvist. 2010.
Writing clinics: Writeshops
without presentations. Poster. 627 kb
- Julian Gonsalves and Ric Armonia (editors). 2010.
Writeshops. A tool for packaging and
sharing field-based experiences.
International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and International
Potato Center - UPWARD.
- Volume 1: Workshop proceedings
- Volume 2: Case studies
- Volume 3: A guide to organizing writeshops
Shortdoc writeshop. Video by Anna Laven of the Royal Tropical
Institute on a writeshop to produce a book on value chain finance. 6.41
minutes, 28.2 Mb
- Mundy, Paul, Evelyn Mathias and Isaac Bekalo. 2006.
Out of heads and onto paper. LEISA
Magazine 22(1). 233 kb
- Mundy, Paul, and Evelyn Mathias. 1997.
Participatory workshops to
produce information materials on ethnoveterinary medicine. Paper
presented at the First International Conference on Ethnoveterinary Medicine,
Pune, India, 4–6 November 1997. 227 kb
- Mundy, Paul.
information materials through participatory workshops.
- Bekalo, Isaac and Paul Mundy.
produce info materials. 2153 kb
- Chavez, H de, D Campilan, J Gonsalves and J Rivaca. 2006.
Communicating science to support
conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity: A case study. Users’ Perspectives With
Agricultural Research and Development - International Potato Center
(CIP-UPWARD). Summary at pp 246, 236 in: Donghong Cheng, Jenni Metcalfe and Bernard Schiele (eds). 2006. At the
human scale: International practices in science communication. Science Press,
China. 351p. ISBN 7-03-017069-5.
- National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute. 2004.
Improving livelihoods in the uplands of the Lao PDR: A Sourcebook.
NAFRI, Vientiane, Laos.