3 squares Learn about REx: The Research Exchange Index

Overview | Origins | Ongoing Evolution | REx 1 


REx is similar to an imprint of a large publisher. Operating under the auspices of the WAC Clearinghouse, REx receives reports on contemporary writing research from active researchers, and periodically REx peer-reviews and publishes those reports online through a searchable database that enables users to search for models, methods, and collaborators.

REx reports are a unique scholarly genre. Distinct from long-form articles, book chapters, and books, which tend to focus on research findings, REx reports are short and focused on the process of research (i.e., project design and staffing, funding, researcher reflections).

REx 1, published in spring 2016, is the first edition of the database. Researchers with projects dating from 2000 to the present can—and should—continue to contribute.


Work on REx began in 2006. Since then, while REx has undergone several revisions as well as at least one name change, its purpose has stayed the same: to create a resource that helps writing researchers quickly and easily share details of their work with one another.

The instigating moment was a roundtable at the 2006 CCCC. The session, "Collaborating across Institutions," was organized by Jenn Fishman and included Sally Ebest, Lee Ann Carroll, Doug Hesse, Andrea Lunsford, Stephen Wilhoit, and Smokey Wilson. During the Q&A, Joan Mullin discussed how, as program director at the University of Toledo, she did research on an ad hoc basis rather than as part of a formal study, "usually to prove a point—and often to save my program or get funding." Mullin pointed out that, although the methodology and resulting data had value, "it was not worth [her] time to write up, or it would have been difficult to situate it in the research as expected for publication." Noting that many WPAs conducted ad hoc research frequently, Mullin argued the field would not only benefit from viewing models of research used to solve local institutional challenges; writing scholars might also be able to aggregate data from similar kinds of studies and glean important findings—if a venue could be found for such an exchange.

Subsequent discussions. which included Mullin, Fishman, and Hesse, underscored the need for a resource for making information about both published and unpublished research accessible. At the WAC 2006 conference a few months later, Mullin talked with Glenn Blalock about the idea, and he recommended asking Mike Palmquist if he would be interested in joining them. Together with Fishman, Hesse, and Wilhoit, they developed what became the Research Exchange.

Ongoing Evolution

Initially imagined as one more resource on the WAC Clearinghouse site, similar to the WAC Bibliography and FAQs, REx ultimately emerged as a new category of crowd-sourced information about writing research. At that time it was guided by Blalock, Fishman, Mullin, Palmquist, and Wilhoit with feedback from numerous colleagues: Linda Adler-Kassner, Chris Anson, Chuck Bazerman, Tiane Donahue, Rich Haswell, Doug Hesse, Erin Krampetz, Andrea Lunsford, Karen Lunsford, Sue McLeod, Ed Nagelhout, Stacey Pigg, Becky Rickly, Paul Rogers, Shirley Rose, David Russell, Nancy Sommers, Chris Thaiss, Ed White, and Kathi Blake Yancey.

After two years and limited participation, it was time to reassess. In 2010, Blalock, Fishman, Mullin, and Palmquist along with Joanne Addison and Sharon James McGee considered redirecting REx to emphasize mentoring new researchers, facilitating cross-institutional collaborations, or publishing raw data to promote RAD research in writing studies. However, each of these ideas was too challenging to be practicable, demanding resources the group did not have. Instead, in order to contribute actively to research mentorship, the group explored a partnership between REx and the Research Network Forums.

REx 1

A year later, in 2011, Fishman and Mullin returned to the project's initial focus: sharing reports about recent research and research-in-progress. It took four more years to bring together the current cadre of human and technological resources that constitute REx, which remains true to its original intention. As a resource for everyone who is interested in writing and its study, REx makes it possible for researchers as well as students, scholars, teachers, and other writing stakeholders find models for new projects, put current projects in context, and review work in writing studies from 2000 to the present.