Accountability Groups

Joining an accountability group or forming one of your own is an effective strategy for getting writing done and for making progress on large projects. Accountability groups work by leveraging social support and imposing structure on tasks that might otherwise seem isolating and unstructured.  

The social support comes from the mutual commitment group members make to show up and to do the work. The structure comes from the agreement to meet at regularly scheduled times and from the idea that participants benefit from sharing their progress, stating their current goals, and articulating their next steps.

Common Features of Accountability Groups

  • Groups decide in advance how many times to meet per week, usually one to five times.
  • Sessions are scheduled for a predetermined block of time, usually one to four hours with planned breaks when work time exceeds 45 minutes.
  • Participants usually share goals at the start of a session, then work silently together or offline, and then reconvene to report progress toward goals or plans for next steps.

Accountability groups are pretty easy to lead, once you have participants. For further guidance, review this brief video on How to Start a Great Online Study Group.

If your student organization would like an academic coach to help you get started, contact the Academic Resource Center

If want to join an existing group, try one of these options:  

  • ARC Graduate Student Accountability Groups. 60-75 minutes, 1-5 days per week, 6-12 participants, 3 weeks per session. Participants share goals, progress, and often tips, at check-ins and check-outs. ARC coaches and experienced group members facilitate. For the current schedule and to register to attend, please log in to the ARC Scheduler using your HarvardKey.  
  • ARC Productivity to PhD sessions for dissertation writers. Held during breaks, 5 days per week, 6-12 participants, 1-2 weeks per session. Same structure as Grad Student Accountability Groups. ARC coaches facilitate. 
  • GSAS Writing Oasis has accountability groups hosted by the Fellowships & Writing Center. Some groups are facilitated by FWC staff and others are autonomous. The groups are offered in a variety of formats based on interest, schedules, and time zones.