Lucas Center Blog

Academic Writing: Why do Professors Struggle with Writing and Publishing?

March 31, 2020  / Jackie Greene, EdD  / Tags: Research, dysfunction, academic, cause, writing

“Writing is to academia what sex was to nineteenth-century Vienna: everybody does it and nobody talks about it” (Belcher, 2009, p.1).

No, this blog post is not about sex in Vienna; it is the first in a series of blogs about academic writing, and as the first, it will provide some information on the causes of writing dysfunction in academia.  Are there problems with writing dysfunction in academia?  Well, let’s see what the data has to say.

Revelations from surveys of over 40,000 U.S. faculty were eye-opening (Lindholm et al. 2005; Robison, 2013):

  • 26% of respondents reported they spent zero hours a week writing
  • 27% had never published a peer-reviewed journal article
  • 43% had not published any writing in the past two-years

The psychology of writing is an area that is profiting from empirically based research. In his research on academic writers Boice (1990) found most academics were more willing to chat about their personal problems than about their issues regarding writing.  Actually, writing dysfunction among academics is nothing to laugh at; it is a well-recognized problem and research indicates emotions and time are at the root of the issue (Belcher, 2009; Boice, 1999; Gray, 2015; Lindholm et al. 2005).

I found a terrific resource to help us deal with both time and emotion. Take a look at this resource from Auckland University; it is informative, provides specific strategies that have proven effective in addressing the issues of time and emotion PLUS it provides a bit of humor…and don’t we all need humor at this point in time?

OR, take the Writer’s Blocking Questionnaire (WBQ) developed by Robert Boice and identify the areas that may be contributing to your ability and inability to be a productive, scholarly writer.

Then, explore how to use the data from the questionnaire.


Be on the look-out for future blog posts concerning academic writing and ways to be a more productive writer.