Browsing the archives for the Collaboration tag

Weekly wisdom: tips and tweaks #45 by Linda Levitt
Posted by Linda Levitt

Diorama_-_19_(8126284371)Find friends from other disciplines. Switching from one discipline to another or doing interdisciplinary research can be a challenge, especially as methods change from one discipline to another.  Yet working with a colleague or friends from another discipline can bring a fresh perspective to your research. Some patience may be required to find a common lexicon, but it is likely that there is more common ground that we might expect from one discipline to another. Should a project idea develop that you can work on together, each of you can be first author for the work in your own discipline. More collaboration, less competition.

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Collaborative writing at a distance by Melanie Boeckmann
Posted by Linda Levitt

800px-Teamwork_(5893295462)Melanie Boeckmann, M.A. works as Research Fellow at the University of Bremen and pursues a PhD in Public Health at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS in Germany. You can find her on twitter @m_boeckmann.

Sometimes, you are just really really lucky. You get funding to go to an international conference, you network and all of a sudden you and a colleague (or several colleagues even) email about this great idea you have for a project. Yes, you think, we should write this article together. The caveat: You are at your institution, and your colleague is on a different continent in an inconveniently shifted time zone. The only solution: collaborating online.

Research thrives from exchange. So does writing: thinking and writing both profit from telling somebody about your thoughts, to receive input or (constructive!) criticism. In addition, collaborative work can lead to research that is beyond your original field of expertise, or in a subfield, and just in general allows you to broaden your horizon.  Collaborative writing, then, is work requiring a tool box rather than a single tool.

Whether you are toying with the idea of suggesting a joint project to the colleagues you met at that (inter-)national conference, or are a pro at juggling time zones and document versions, here’s how a colleague and I successfully cooperated on an article that we are submitting:

1.    Set a realistic goal
Ideally, we wanted to pump out a bunch of articles and apply for a huge grant. And we can, eventually. But the first step was to identify one area that interested us both, and to formulate a specific research question that we could actually achieve in one year.

2.    Divide the tasks
Especially with interdisciplinary collaboration, one or several persons will be experts at different topics or methods. This way the splitting up tasks is fairly straightforward. If you are all from similar fields, maybe you can negotiate the sections and chores you are most interested in? And everybody should contribute to the tedious tasks, too!

3.    Use interactive platforms
Options include mailing each other the documents, syncing devices like Dropbox or Spideroak, working on a google document together, or sharing the writing through other tools like github. The Profhacker blog over at the Chronicle of Higher Education usually has great introductory posts to software and tools such as these.

4.    Version control
Sometimes you send something and you wait for feedback, but then you also have a great idea and you change some sections around in the document. Of course you can just send the document again with track changes and hope the other persons have not added many changes themselves yet. Nicer would it be to have everyone work on the same document without danger of erasing what the other person has just written. This works with google docs, but for the next project I hope to learn how to use github, because I hear their version control is excellent: one worry less!

5.    Keep in touch!
I found this to be one of the most important aspects of our collaboration. Obviously don’t over-do it, but checking in once in a while, especially if you don’t have fixed deadlines, is helpful.

What about you? Do you have any online collaboration success stories to tell?

Coming up soon, Charlotte Frost and Jesse Stommel will show you how they work together using collaborative tools across continents and time zones!

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Founding First Five – by Tamsyn Gilbert
Posted by Charlotte Frost
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This blog post by Tamsyn Gilbert (founder of First Five) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

As an idea, it’s pretty simple. First Five is a website that asks theorists, musicians and artists the first five websites that they visit each day and why. The contributors to First Five are people that I have asked to participate. They are the theorists, academics and artists who I am interested in or have influenced my own work in some way. In this sense, First Five is heavily curated towards my interests and research. I am concerned with how these people who are significant to my way of thinking use the web (a space that I use and participate in/with so often) as both a space of function and a knowledge building space.

So what can we read from these websites that these theorists visit daily? Most contributors’ websites include those for research, work, play and entertainment. News websites (The Guardian, The New York Times) are prominent, along with social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr) and then there are usually one or two websites that are ‘unique’ to that person. In a space where there is an abundance of content, economies of attention are crucial, it seems vital to know what websites theorists are spending their time on and why, for at least at one point in time.

In relation to my own work, the instinct to create First Five was to think of it as a time capsule of interests of influential people. For me, First Five acts as an archive of web knowledge, practices and sensibilities. The Internet is not only a space for learning and gaining information, but also sharing it. But what has been interesting about First Five is not only how eager people are to share, but also to learn and form relationships with those that have similar interests. I am not sure what may come from the website, but I am interested in collecting the data, sharing the sites that others visit and learning along the way.

In a more general sense, First Five has taught me how to engage on the Internet, how to communicate with other academics around an idea and the skills that are required to do so (whether through email, or twitter). First Five has shown me what it means to engage with people online around an idea. Although it is my website, I am not the only author. I am simply the curator. The ability to collect information, display and share that information with others and to critique that information are not only useful skills found in web activity, but also for the life of an academic. Further, the website would not exists without the people who are willing to contribute. It is not paid work, these people take their own time and energy to participate in my project. Collaboration and participation are the keywords of the Internet and with this, intellectuals need to understand that these components are essential to the productive sharing of knowledge and acting in this space. I hope by creating First Five I can share just one part of this knowledge.

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How to be a Hackademic #39 by Charlotte Frost & Jesse Stommel
Posted by Charlotte Frost
How to be a hackademic pictureHybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel and our very own Charlotte Frost rethink academic life and writing productivity in this on-going series of hints, tips and hacks.

COLLABORATE. Get a writing buddy. This has a number of benefits. There are fewer tasks to complete and it’s less daunting than going it alone. You will spark each other’s imagination and probably work quicker as a result. And being accountable to someone other than yourself can add a bit of useful pressure. Collaboration can be as elaborate as you want it to be. Some writers can collaborate fully, finishing each other’s sentences, to the point where even they can’t recognize where one person’s writing ends and the next person’s begins (which is how these tips were written). Other collaborators work best when they cut a project into sections and divvy them up. Each working relationship is slightly different, so don’t set up too many expectations in advance about how you’ll work together.


Want more hackademic tips ? Click here!

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When is a Hashtag a Journal Article? by Charlotte Frost
Posted by Charlotte Frost

hashtag in a squareRight that’s it, I’ve done it, I’ve gone and put my money where my mouth is. Or rather, I’ve put my open access politics where my REFables should be.

I’ve written a journal article on the nature of art historical knowledge and its philosophical relationship to its physical archives. But rather than present that article all nicely peer-reviewed and in a high impact journal, I’m publishing it free online and inviting anyone and everyone to peer review it – publicly. I wanted my first full-length academic journal article to be in line with the online areas of art history that I research, where art and art history are freely shared. Because I am interested in the on- and offline networks that create and support our ideas about art, I wanted other people’s opinions to be integral to the piece. And as I run an academic book series that experiments with the relations between the form and content of art history books, I wanted to dig my own publishing sandpit (or rather, extend the one I already built when created PhD2Published).

As it’s not enough that I’ve gone all open access on art history’s ass, I also wanted to consider – along with the media-aware ideas in my article – what post-digital art history might be. Partly this is reflected in the fact the article is not print-published but it is also reflected in my decision to work with media artist Rob Myers to manifest what might be best described as a physical version of the article. Embedded within the text itself are links to a project where you can order your own version of a 3D printed hashtag of the phrase ‘art history’. This draws attention the fact all art historical writing takes some sort of physical form – whether it’s printed words on pages or tweeted hashtags on Twitter – and re-enforces my argument that art historians need to better understand our own media. It also allows the article to generate a number of new research objects. That is, as #arthistory is interacted with beyond the space of the article itself, it can become new things – crowdsourced things – which also (if not quite directly) support the article’s theories about the value placed on participative modes in online art contextual activity.

So here’s what happens. To read the article itself you can go here:

Or if that’s too long winded, you can also get the gist of the #arthistory component here:

Ideally you’ll then either offer your peer review comments on the article and or you’ll purchase your own hashtag and start sharing photographs of it in use.

And then let’s all meet back here or on Twitter (I’m @charlottefrost) and discuss what we think of this as a project. Does it represent a step in the right direction for open access scholarship, the digital humanities and new forms of publication and research, or does it try to do too much at once? Does the theory at the heart of the article suffer due to the playfulness of the #arthistory project? Should such projects be evaluated and if so, how?

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Baby on board, so time to take my leave (at least for a little while!)…by Anna Tarrant
Posted by Charlotte Frost

baby-on-boardThe time has come to announce that this is my last post for PhD2Published for a little while (boo! :-( because I am going to be taking some time off to have a baby! :-) She (yes apparently it’s a girl!) is due at the end of April 2013 so my attentions will be re-directed elsewhere for a while.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being the Managing Editor for PhD2Published and given that my body is being incredibly productive, I thought I would also take this opportunity to reflect on my time with PhD2Published to share some of the things I have learnt.

Becoming Managing Editor was a ‘seize the moment’ type affair (my first tip; seize any opportunity that you can – but be strategic!). I was working as a Senior Teaching Associate at Lancaster University (a teaching only position) at the time and I felt really disconnected from the world of academic publishing and research. In identifying a need for support and guidance in publishing I embarked on an online search for resources and that was when I came across PhD2Published.  As luck would have it, Charlotte was looking for someone to fill the Managing Editor role so I jumped at the opportunity and just over a year later I am so grateful I did. Here’s why:

I have learnt about how and where to publish

One of my roles as Managing Editor is to source material relating to topics relevant to academic publishing. With a desire to publish myself I sought information that would not just help me, but others too, in all our publishing journeys. This helped me to collate useful material that also built a strong personal, but openly accessible narrative about publishing.  In the past year I have invited academics of various career stages to write blogs, ranging in focus and including (but not limited too): contemporary publishing models such as Open Access; developing academic writing (see the benefits of writing in groups and collaborative writing); and reflection on publishing and emotion (e.g. Publish or Perish). I have even written my own resources for the site (see my series of #acwri summaries and what not to send for peer review) and for other reputable blogs including Guardian Higher Education.

As well as publishing blogs, I have gained a great deal of knowledge and confidence in publishing in more traditional ways. In the past year I have had three journal articles accepted, have had a book chapter published, with another on the way, and have been asked to peer review for several journals – all skills I needed to acquire but felt less able to in my teaching post. Needless to say, I am now a Research Associate at the Open University and can boast a much-developed CV.

I have upskilled

  • I have learnt how to blog, how to set up a blog site and how to write for different audiences,
  • I have learnt how to use Twitter, to network, to establish a professional identity, to share resources, to chair and manage a live chat (#acwri) and a large scale online project (#acwrimo),
  • I have also learnt how to use a range of different social media and applications including Twitter, Storify,, Dropbox and Google Docs.

Networking: online and off

Networking and contacting academics from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines, geographic locations and so on has also launched me into a supportive, active and engaged community across multiple social media platforms; the website itself, Twitter and Facebook. Meeting people at conferences who know of me through Twitter has undeniably enhanced my ability to network and to meet people in my fields of research. Get known on Twitter, it helps to enhance your networking skills and visibility at conferences!

I have become involved in emerging academic debates about publishing/writing

Finally, PhD2Published has also expanded my research interests and expertise, so much so that I gave a conference paper about it at the SRHE Annual Conference 2012. This has afforded me the opportunity to reflect critically on academic use of social media for knowledge production and there is even a publication in the pipeline about this very topic, so watch this space!

Last but not least, as well as acquiring a range of skills I have also found a great colleague and friend in the one and only, charismatic and creative, Charlotte Frost. She is a quirky, selfless lady (with a penchant for pretty, purple, glittery things) and a true inspiration. I have the utmost respect for her and she has truly shown me that respect is earned; through hard work, tenacity, friendship, intelligence and a lust for life. I have a lot to thank her for and everyone who I have had the pleasure of working with/meeting in the past year or so.

Of course, I am not disappearing completely so hope to see you online soon!!

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OMFG! I just got re-tweeted by Justin Beeber!?!?! Social Media Academia by Ben
Posted by Charlotte Frost
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This blog post by Ben (author of the Literature HQ blog) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

Today’s celebrities are more accessible than ever before. It’s not uncommon for me to see my friends gushing after being mentioned by a minor (or sometimes major) celebrity on Twitter. While this may seem trivial, for me it’s amazing. I think it represents the shrinking of oceans between us and people who we thought were totally inaccessible. This includes vacuous celebrities, but more importantly, it also includes the greatest minds of the 21st Century. This incredibly powerful phenomenon has become the new focus of my growing blog.

So where did it all begin? Well, I suppose my site is first and foremost an experiment. Now I have some idea of how I want it to progress but at the start I certainly didn’t. I just wanted to make a “complete” resource for people doing an academic literature review. By complete I mean that I didn’t just stop half way through but made it into something that someone could ultimately use to succeed with their own project.

Based on my early goal and the vision that I had the site has far surpassed my initial expectations. However, as the site has grown so have my ideas hopes for the future of the project. It has been a great vehicle for me to experiment and learn about communicating useful information through digital media such as Twitter, You Tube and Webinars.

Initially it was just me rattling around on the blog, not much of a community or input from others. Now I think that the community and the other contributors are the most important part. Perhaps the most influential section of the blog is a podcast that I use to talk to experts from all different academic fields to try and help my readers/listeners with their literature review. This was popular when it first started but I’ve recently been hosting the podcasts live with input from the audience which has been a huge success. I think it highlights the changing tide of media in general. It is no longer acceptable to just preach to crowds from a pulpit. Our audiences expect to be engaged by the people who are providing them with information.

Is this novel? Am I feral, hybrid and outstitutional? When Charlotte asked me this I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve never really thought about it before but yes, this is how I feel at the moment. I feel that what I do is provide an alternative to the way that a lot of skills training (especially writing) is done in universities. I feel like I’m providing an education that I needed myself about 3 years ago! I’m ok with this. It’s certainly not that the academic institutions are doing a bad job, but it’s very difficult to cater to everybody. That’s why I like what I do and I like providing an alternative resource and an alternative point of view. I think it’s ok to be feral as well. This way we are all a little bit leaner and meaner, ready to adapt to the ever-changing tides as larger institutions simply can’t be.

How would I describe Literature Review HQ now? Well I’d say deep down it hasn’t really changed. I still want to make a “complete” resource for anyone doing an academic literature review. However my definition of “complete” has changed. Now it’s not just about me sharing my experiences and advice. I feel like now it is my responsibility to find the very best experts in the world and to try get them to impart their wisdom to my audience. In the future I also want to focus even more on engagement. I think it’s really exciting how we can deliver information online. I also think it’s exciting how accessible people genuinely are. We really have the best information within reach. If we want we can talk to experts and learn an awful lot. I feel that it is my responsibility to use my blog as a platform to aggregate all this information for the benefit of anyone who wants to really write an amazing literature review.

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#PhDchat – a Doctoral and Academic Research Community – by Nasima Riazat
Posted by Charlotte Frost
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This blog post by Nasima Riazat (an instigator of the ‘#PhDchat’ Twitter discussion) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

#phdchat is a twitter hashtag for doctoral researchers and early career researchers which was set up by a group of doctoral researchers in December 2009. #Phdchat is a professional community for academics and researchers to share resources, highs, lows, pieces of blogging to get feedback and to tentatively test thoughts and ideas with like-minded colleagues. I have been asked to write this post by Dr Charlotte Frost reflecting on what the chat is about, why I started it, discuss the nature of the chat and to offer some personal thoughts and reflections on the degree of its success.

The #phdchat hashtag was established when a few tweets were posted by doctoral students and a live chat was organised to be held each Wednesday evening for all UK doctoral researchers to enable us to have a community to share the journey with. As word spread about the hashtag to people’s networks, a large community was contributing informally and partaking in the live chats.

Reflecting back in 2013, the hashtag has flourished beyond all expectations and #phdchat has gone from strength to strength. On the 14th March 2013, an analysis of the #phdchat hashtag showed that it had reached an audience of over 650,000 people and had over 560 posts within 24 hours (info gathered via I am both thrilled and humbled by the worldwide success and how #phdchat has become an invaluable and useful community to researchers. We have people at various stages of their research careers contributing regularly, whether they are starting their PhD journey, are early career researchers, supervisors, lecturers or Professors.

When I started my own doctoral degree it became apparent that a support network was needed for the much anticipated joys and lows of PhD life. I had a busy full-time career as a Curriculum Leader in a high school and it was not feasible to make long journeys to network with PhD students or to regularly attend research conferences to build up my research network. My supervisor (@janshs) suggested using Twitter to make links with other researchers to test my thoughts and ideas for my grounded theory research design. Initially I was extremely wary and came across very few doctoral researchers on social media. Having located a few PhD students, an ‘online’ conversation (albeit not in live time) about grounded theory inspired the desire to start chatting more regularly with PhD students in live time and #phdchat was born.

The idea of a hashtag and a live chat was not originally my own idea and evolved through tentative discussions by myself, @janshs, @ianrobsons, @janedavis13 and @lizith before others such as @jefferykeefer, @emmaburnettx and @andycoverdale started to join in and make this the vast research community it has now become. At this time the only ‘live chat’ on Twitter that I was aware of was the #ukedchat hashtag where teachers ‘met’ online at the same time each week to discuss a topic of relevance. I particularly liked how this chat inspired me to get involved and bravely put out a few tweets and thus gaining a few followers and colleagues to share thoughts and ideas with and used this experience to adopt the same model for #phdchat.

A poll was posted for the community to choose a topic and a time was collectively chosen so we could get together each week and share our research thoughts and ideas. The chat element of the hashtag is, in my opinion, what has made the thread so resoundingly successful as this is when the community really started to develop professional relationships and, what were to be long term friendships, which enabled us all to quickly gel with each other. The chat element also provides a ‘safe’ place for those who are new to Twitter and don’t have any connections as yet to build their network and feel confident to talk. The live chat gives us all a topic to focus on (whether we contribute regularly to #phdchat or not) and a chance to ‘test the water’ of social media before launching straight into posting tweets and links of our own. People often are a little wary of contributing when they don’t have a common topic, don’t know the community, or feel worried that someone may not reply to them and I feel a live chat encourages them to be drawn into the conversation. It was a challenging task as moderator in the early days to get everyone involved and drawn into the discussion but now the chats tend to run themselves.

Most of my professional development as a teacher and researcher has been through the knowledge I have gained through #phdchat. I know many of us have become lifelong friends, there have been some #phdchat meet-ups and great friendships have been born due to this hashtag. Due to the immense global success of #phdchat, people from other time zones indicated that this model was a good idea and that they too wished to start a version phdchat of their own which was more convenient for their time zones which resulted in Dr Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer) launching an Australian version of live #phdchat and there has been some discussion around possibly launching an American version.

Another great success of #phdchat is that as the community has grown people have started their own versions of live chats more focused to their field or stage in their research career which is fantastic to see. I have also seen other twitter chats take on the similar setup of #phdchat (such as #sltchat started by @teachertoolkit) which follow the same model of informal posts throughout the week and a live chat once a week to develop a real active live community.

Although all members of the community are equally valuable, I feel that a special mention must be made to @lizith for setting up and maintaining the #phdchat wiki and to @gawbul for uploading the #phdchat tweets to the wiki.

As I approach the final few months of my own thesis I feel thankful to all who have helped, supported and advised me through the #phdchat thread – too many of you to mention here personally. It has been wonderful to share my thesis journey with my doctoral colleagues on #phdchat and to see many of you come through at the end with your degrees. As the first generation of #phdchatters come to the end of their degrees, I hope that #phdchat continues to flourish and provide support, friendship and thesis-related knowledge to the next generation of PhD students.

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A Scholarship of Generosity: New-form Publishing and Hybrid Pedagogy by Jesse Stommel
Posted by Charlotte Frost
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This blog post by Jesse Stommel (Co-founder and Director of Hybrid Pedagogy) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

The idea for the name of Hybrid Pedagogy came from a job talk I gave in October 2011. The thesis of that talk now sits on the journal’s homepage: “All learning is necessarily hybrid.” The line is inspired by a blog post from February 2010, in which I write: “The teacher 2.0 must shift the focus from individual learners to the community of learners, drawing new boundaries that reflect a much larger hybrid classroom.” This sentence also describes the work of new-form academic publishing, which draws new boundaries by upsetting the distinction between scholarship and teaching — between the work we do in journals and the work we do in classrooms.

When Pete Rorabaugh and I began discussing what would become Hybrid Pedagogy in early 2011, we wondered if what we were describing was a “journal” or something else entirely. At various points, we flirted with calling the project a “symposium,” “colloquium,” “collective,” or “school.” It was clear to us, from the start, that what we were creating was not a traditional academic publication. What we wanted to build was a network, a community for engaging a discussion of digital pedagogy, critical pedagogy, open education, and online learning. At the same time, we wanted to build a collection of resources to help facilitate conversations within that community.

We worked from the start to develop the journal openly, gathering together an advisory board that had virtual “meetings” on the web via the discussion forum on the site. The goal was to interrogate academic publishing practices by making them transparent — to lay bare our process while it was in formation. We published articles about peer-review before we had established our own peer-review process, inviting feedback and commentary. We crowd-sourced the majority of our initial decisions, down to the layout and design of the site.

Hybrid Pedagogy has become a publication that combines the best aspects of an open-access journal with the best aspects of a group blog (timeliness, a nimble publishing schedule, and direct engagement with readers). Through the articles we’ve published and events we’ve hosted (like MOOC MOOC and regular #digped chats), we’ve brought together higher education teachers, K-12 teachers, the open education community, students, and lifelong learners. We’ve worked to disrupt the conventions of academic publishing, while still maintaining a careful attention to detail, context, and critical engagement.

Based on input from our initial advisory board, we’ve developed what we call “collaborative peer review,” in which editors engage directly with authors to revise and develop articles, followed by post-publication peer review. Once an article is accepted for review, we partner a new author with an editorial board member (myself, Pete, Sean Michael Morris, and Robin Wharton) and a guest editor (usually someone that has already published an article in the journal). Editorial work is done both asynchronously and synchronously in a Google Doc that evolves through an open dialogue between author and editors.

We fully expect our process will continue to evolve. Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues, “Peer review is extremely important — I want to acknowledge that right up front — but it threatens to become the axle around which all conversations about the future of publishing get wrapped.” Going forward, I think it’s vital that every academic publication continuously (and even publicly) interrogates its own practices. Given how rapidly education is changing, we need to keep pushing ourselves to innovate — to learn from our mistakes — and to stay nimble in our approaches. We need to actively overturn the existing hierarchies and power dynamics that fuel unethical practices like blind peer-review, the proliferation of overpriced and barely read monographs, closed-access publishing, and business models that rely insidiously on the free labor of contingent faculty.

I’m glad Pete and I ultimately decided to describe Hybrid Pedagogy as a “journal,” exactly because this designation allows us to push on the boundaries of what, when, and how academic work gets published. The notion of an “academic journal” needs dismantling and reimagining. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue to have traditional academic journals, but that we need to considerably broaden the landscape to make way for dynamic collaboration, new media, and participatory culture.

Since launching Hybrid Pedagogy in January 2012, we’ve published 94 articles by 17 authors. The majority of these have been peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers (all but the earliest articles and #digped announcements). We’ve worked especially hard to encourage collaboration; 21 of the 94 articles we’ve published was written by two or more authors, including one article by five authors, one article by twelve authors, and one article by hundreds of authors. Articles have covered a wide range of topics, from MOOCs to digital writing — from intellectual property to personal learning networks.

Shortly after we launched Hybrid Pedagogy, Pete and I wrote an article about the changing nature of citation in the digital age — an article in which we made nods to the various sources for our work on the journal. In that article, we write, “In digital space, everything we do is networked. Real thinking doesn’t (and can’t) happen in a vacuum. Our teaching practices and scholarship don’t just burst forth miraculously from our skulls. The digital academic community is driven by citation, generosity, connection, and collaboration.” I believe generosity is what will drive the future of digital publishing.

Check out the most recent articles on Hybrid Pedagogy: Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 1 and pt. 2 and follow @hybridped on Twitter.

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Questioning the legitimacy of new-form digital projects: An autoethnography of #AcWri and PhD2Published by Anna Tarrant
Posted by Charlotte Frost

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This blog post by Anna Tarrant (aka PhD2Published’s Managing Editor and co-instigator of #AcWri) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship projects and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects what their intentions where when the established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

When I first contacted Charlotte just over a year ago asking if I could become the Managing Editor of PhD2Published, I never suspected what kind of new doors it would, and could, open for me. In this blog piece I reflect on the role PhD2Published has played for me in the early development of my academic career and muse about how online spaces such as this are integral to an emerging movement that is transforming academic knowledge production and empowering contemporary academics. While my personal experiences are fairly unique, one of the ways in which I think we can learn about and understand the position, increased uptake and legitimacy of online academic spaces is by adopting autoethnographic methodologies; reflecting on our own positions in these new online participatory cultures.

I found PhD2Published while looking for some guidance and support for my newly forming publishing plans. I was on a short, fixed term contract as a Senior Teaching Associate at the time, which meant that the majority of my thinking and time was dedicated to teaching plans, maintaining relationships with my students and marking. While I maintained a fantastic mentor in my PhD supervisor, I felt adrift. It wasn’t part of my paid role to publish at this point, but I was conscious of the need to develop personally in order to competitively pursue the career I so long for (something permanent that combines both teaching and research – note I am currently in my third short-term academic contract since Oct 2010). At this time, I knew that I had to have a publishing strategy and some personal goals to become established in my field. Feeling lost in my institution and disconnected in terms of my research aims and development, I went in search of something else; support, community, the ‘how to’ of academic publishing. In the end, I turned to the Internet for this support and PhD2Published couldn’t have provided a better opportunity.

In the past year or so, since being involved with the site as a Managing Editor, I have learnt so much. In brief, I have learnt how, and where to publish to maximize my impact. I have had two traditional style journal papers accepted, I have contributed to various blogs, including the Guardian Higher Education blog, I have learnt how to use Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms to enhance my professional profile and have set up my own professional blog, which has even attracted attention from people outside of academia. I have also up-skilled; not only have I learnt how to run and manage an academic blog, I have networked much more widely on a variety of social media platforms to the point where I am recognized for my work at conferences. I have learnt a great deal from others – having also collaborated on #Acwri, the monthly live chats Dr Jeremy Segrott and I run on Twitter. And I have continued to publicly share my experiences in order to support others.

The #AcWri live chats in particular were established by myself and Jeremy after PhD2Published’s writing initiative, AcBoWriMo (now AcWriMo), when Jeremy was publicly searching for a community for academic writing discussion. It was quickly recognized that a much larger community of academics (of different disciplines, career stages and nationalities) wanted support with the emotional, as well as practical elements of one of their main crafts. Jeremy and I decided to collaborate and run fortnightly live chats on Twitter focused on different aspects of academic writing under the hashtag #AcWri. The intention of this was to establish an on-going, online participatory community, an open platform for sharing knowledge about academic writing (empowering each member as experts in their right) and to generate useful resources in the form of sumWwri has been successful in these goals so far, but what does this mean for academic knowledge production and has this changed our ways of working?

The establishment of the #AcWri community has emerged from, and aligns with PhD2Published’s (and other sites’) ethos of open, participatory learning but it has also contributed to changing the ways we work/research, publish/share and network/support each other. It allows a diverse group of researchers to connect and share their knowledge beyond the physical boundaries of institutions and to publish in new ways that are available to others beyond academia. It has allowed for a more engaged and open conversation about the ‘hidden injuries’ (Gill 2009) of neo-liberal academia (in this case through frank discussions about writing, a key part of the publishing we need to do, or risk ‘perishing’). It also allows us to share our successes and failures, to support and to network with one another in ways that have been less available to us before. The need for these spaces is evident in that the community, in size and quality of contribution, has flourished and is also self-perpetuating without the need for Jeremy and I to intervene beyond the live chats.

Importantly, the increased use and uptake of these online academic sites indicates broader changes, both within, and outside academic institutions that cannot be ignored. What is (not) happening within institutions that is encouraging more scholars to go online? Is this indicative of an absence of support in contemporary academia for its staff, particularly those who are Early Career? All of these questions are beginning to be raised and I am really excited to be part of a group of scholars (who have also written for this series of blogs) who are reflecting on, and even theorising about the increased uptake of online academic spaces where academic knowledge production is taking place. Through my involvement with PhD2Published and #AcWri I have personally developed essential and empowering skills that are required by the contemporary Early Career academic and yet for some reason these spaces still lack legitimacy

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Guess What?! NOBODY failed AcWriMo!
Posted by Charlotte Frost

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Collaborative writing groups: Part One by Karen Strickland
Posted by atarrant

It’s November, it’s #acwrimo, it’s that time of year when we academics are looking for best forms of practice when it comes to our academic writing. Karen Strickland, Senior Lecturer & Senior Teaching Fellow at Edinburgh Napier University reflects on her experiences of face to face and online writing groups for providing support and time for writing. You can view her profile here and follow her on Twitter (@strictlykaren).

Do you struggle to write on your own, watch deadlines pass you by and never quite get round to turning that thesis or conference paper into an article? Collaborative writing might be just the approach you need. Collaborative writing groups are a useful approach which can help you develop your experience of writing for publication and help you meet deadlines and targets for writing.

Writing groups offer the potential for shared experience of writing together either on the same article as co-author, or as a buddy experience, working alongside each other to develop unique articles. I have been interested in collaborative writing approaches for some time, as I think they are useful approaches which help to develop capability of newer writers and thus develop capacity. There are a number of ways you can write collaboratively such as co-authoring, writing in groups or signing up to a writing workshop or retreat. In this blog post I will share my experiences of a few of these approaches and suggest ways in which you can create opportunities for group writing. I have split these broadly into face to face and online groups.

Earlier this summer a group of staff from Edinburgh Napier attended a three day residential writing retreat.  The retreat was facilitated by David Baume PhD SFSEDA FHEA who is an independent international higher education researcher, evaluator, consultant, staff and educational developer and writer. The retreat allowed participants time to focus on preparing articles for publication or papers for conference presentation without the usual interruptions of daily working life. The format was a structured, facilitated retreat with opportunities for peer and facilitator support throughout giving a very supportive and collegiate feel to the event. The facilitator used his experience to guide participants in the peer reviewing and publishing process, from choosing the publication outlet to dealing with reviewer’s comments.

The first morning of the retreat, after a little discussion around the focus of our articles we were challenged to go away and write 500 words by lunchtime. We had to come back and report our progress, so the pressure was on from the start! The focus and setting of goals was crucial to the success of the retreat as we worked though the three days, revising and re-drafting our papers. By the end of the three days the participants all completed advanced drafts of their work. Overall this was a very enjoyable and productive experience.

The legacy of this retreat is that we have also continued to meet on a monthly basis on the first Wednesday of the month on the top floor of the library which has a computer room and easy chairs with uninterrupted views of Edinburgh Castle. This helps to provide on-going time for writing and the chance to meet up and discuss writing and peer review. Peer support really is the key to this writing group.

The value of face to face groups are that you get the immediacy of the group interaction, however you need to set ground rules, such as, how long to set aside for social chat at the beginning and end of the sessions. The social aspect of the writing group is worth emphasising but care needs to be taken not to let this eat into writing time.

It is not always possible to meet face to face, and it also limits the reach so how about online writing groups?

A colleague of mine at Edinburgh Napier University leads an open online writing course which has been offered over the past two summers for individuals who are interested in writing for technology enhanced learning.  This initiative was called WriteTEL and was led by Dr Keith Smyth. This initiative invited writers to plan, draft and review an article for publication, whilst being supported by a member of the WriteTEL team. A series of online webinars were provided, with guest experts who had considerable expertise to share in how to write for publication and get published.

This approach worked really well for individuals who perhaps had recently completed a project or had an idea for an article and just needed some support and guidance along with way. We also had participants from all over the globe. Time zones are an obvious challenge for synchronous webinars but recording the webinars meant that participants who were unable to log in could catch up whenever it was convenient.

What do these approaches have in common?

Goals for writing are set at the outset, for example:

  • Deadlines; short and longer term deadlines with goals along the way
  • Opportunities for review by a critical friend
  • Peer support and sharing expertise

What can you do?

Find colleagues with similar interests and set up your own local group, you don’t have to meet face to face, why not use a blog or twitter like local #acwrimo?

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Collaborative Writing by Peter Tennant
Posted by atarrant

(C)’s post reflects on the commonly encountered in academic life; collaborative writing.  The author, Peter Tennant is a junior epidemiologist working at Newcastle University. His research predominantly concerns adverse pregnancy outcomes, but his interests include Social Medicine in its widest sense and the general challenges of an academic career. He can be found regularly tweeting and blogging about both of these.

I once showed my brother one of my papers.

‘Why is it written in such a dull and lifeless style?’

‘Oh, that’s the editor’s fault. It read much better when I submitted it’.

Neither of us was convinced.

There’s no shame in being a scientist who can’t write. Science is fairly well populated by people with exceptional skills in the most extraordinary areas, but who can’t write for toffee. Then again, even the best communicator would struggle writing a scientific paper. Because scientific papers are almost always written in teams.

This is fairly sensible, given most scientific studies are performed in teams, but there are also some serious advantages. For a start it allows contribution from people with a range of skills. Having medical co-authors means my papers can discuss the clinical significance without risking a life-threatening blunder. It also means you’ve got plenty of people to celebrate with when the paper gets accepted. And, it gives you someone else to blame if anyone ever calls your paper, ‘dull and lifeless’.

But, did I mention, it’s also very challenging? As the lead author (most commonly the first name on the authorship list, though not for all disciplines), the main challenge is to your sanity. As long as it might take crafting the first draft, this is nothing compared with the time spent sending it back and forth to your co-authors for more and more comments. It’s this process that I think produces that instantly recognisable multi-author style (the one my brother kindly referred to as ‘dull and lifeless’). Like washing a colourful shirt a hundred times. This is why (against the advice of senior authors like Martin White and Jean Adams, see bullet point 3) I rarely waste time overcooking my first drafts. There’s simply no point spending days writing a stunning introductory paragraph, only for it to be completely mauled by your co-authors.

Broadly speaking, co-authors come in one of three factory settings; the Rampant Re-writers, the Sweeping Suggestion-Makers, and the Utterly Useless.

The Rampant Re-writers get the most flack. These are the people who so heavily drench your draft in tracked-changes that, by the end, it stops feeling like your paper. Draining as this can be, these co-authors are actually the nice ones, generously spending their time to improve the paper. Until they start changing bits that everyone’s already agreed on. That’s when they get really annoying. And when it’s especially important to remember the Golden Rule of Rampant Re-writers: edits are only suggestions – as the lead author, you should always have the final say.

Next there are the Sweeping Suggestion-Makers. Wielding the deadly comment box, they add things like, ‘this bit needs shortening’ or ‘I think you should add something about X’. Sometimes I’m tempted to send it back and say, ‘I think YOU should add something about X if YOU think it’s so important!’ But they’re usually too busy. And they’re usually right. Damn them with their helpful comments.

By far the most harmful authors are the Utterly Useless. The ones who don’t reply to emails, or who get back saying vague things like, ‘looks great’. In the absence of praise from your other authors (sadly the academic for, ‘this is amazing, fantastic work’ is often simply, ‘no further comments’), these people can seem like your friends, but they’re not. They’re useless. That’s why I call them Utterly Useless. In fact, these authors are the ones that can cause genuine ethical dilemmas. Do they even satisfy the conditions of authorship? Occasionally a senior academic will insist on being an author due to some historical connection with the study, even if they then add nothing to the paper. This is unethical. But not something that the average PhD student is in a position to do anything about. More pertinent is the risk of being pushed down the author order, despite doing the most work. It’s common throughout the history of science. It’s also morally repugnant. Always try to discuss the authorship list and the author-order before starting writing a paper and this risk can be reduced (though, sadly, not eliminated).

If being the lead/first author is most difficult, it’s not necessarily easy being a support author, where the big challenge is in getting the right balance of comments. Despite years of therapy, I still fall firmly into the Rampant Re-writer category. On more than one occasion, I’ve made the first author cry by overdoing the edits. Some support authors try to soften the blow by spreading their edits over several revisions, e.g. making the ‘essential’ changes first, then the less major changes later. But I’ve experienced this as a first author and actually found it more depressing! It’s like getting to the end of a marathon, only to be told to run another five miles. Short of making them cry, over-editing might still annoy your co-authors, especially if they are senior. For some reason, Professors don’t always react very well to having their words rewritten by a PhD student. So here’s my advice, try and get all your comments in first time, but make sure they are all essential. If in doubt, leave it out. Unless you’re happy making your colleagues cry.

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#acwri Twitter chat. Writing with others. Thursday 6th September 2012
Posted by atarrant

This week the #Acwri live chat was all about Writing with others. Contributors to the discussions had a varied amount of experience, sharing tips, asking questions and exploring the challenges of this kind of writing. A written summary of the chat can be read in todays post but if you would like to read the chat in full, which includes the key Tweets from the discussion, you can view them on Storify.

Discussions initially focused on the advantages and disadvantages of writing with others. Advantages included the quicker speed at which writing with others could result in a final draft; the fun and stimulating nature of writing with others; bringing different perspectives to the table; developing greater understanding of topics through learning from co-authors; getting the opportunity to see others write; boosting confidence; sharing the agony of getting first words in the page and developing good academic practice showing you can work as both a leader and a team worker.

Discussion of possible disadvantages and difficulties that emerged included letting go of possessiveness over ideas; ensuring the project is suited to multiple authorship; negotiating different writing styles; working with tardy authors or those unaware of deadlines.

These kinds of discussions led to tips abut what makes for a good process for writing with others and what makes for a good co-author relationship. In terms of valuing a co-author, traits including consideration of each others’ strengths and interests; writing with others equally committed to a project and compromising were all respected.

Good processes for writing with others included initial planning of who would be involved and what would be discussed in the project; considering the author order; deciding on the role of each author before starting and deciding on process. Many felt that assigning lead authors, editors and those giving feedback was important to the organization of collaborative piece.

We discussed differences between physically writing together and working across distance. Many felt that working together in projects in the same physical space was very helpful. Anyone working with more than 2 co-authors felt this raised its own challenges and is not always desirable.

Finally it was felt that co-authorship was only achieved if both authors did more than peer review the piece and finding a voice for a piece was deemed important for developing a coherent writing style throughout. Creating a voice was considered to be the role of the first author.

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Publishing as Pedagogy by Jesse Stommel
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Publishing and teaching can both terrify new academics, often to the point of paralysis. Their mutual support for one another is often frustrated by institutional demands. For example, the traditional workload split for full-time faculty at R1 institutions in the US is: 40% teaching, 40% research, 20% service. This division and its usual inflexibility highlights the ways that teaching and scholarly production are kept separate and distinct as forms. Yet, by looking at how publishing is teaching and teaching is publishing, we can lessen the anxiety around these activities and begin to notice how they are, in fact, co-constitutive practices. More than that, we can start to think about the open ends of these aspects of our work. The word “publishing” often implies some sort of finality, research that is finished or complete. This misses something vital about academic work.

This article on PhD2Published, “Publishing as Pedagogy” by Jesse Stommel, is both implicitly and explicitly linked to “Pedagogy as Publishing” by Charlotte Frost on Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal on Teaching & Technology. As publishing venues, both PhD2Published and Hybrid Pedagogy, work to build scholarly community by creating open and ongoing conversation.These twinned articles, which were written together in a Google Doc, combine to introduce communities, points of convergence, and to create a collaborative dialogue on publishing and pedagogy from two complementary perspectives.

Since I first started teaching in 2001, I’ve spoken the words almost like a mantra, “my scholarship and teaching are married.” And it isn’t just that the academic writing I do is influenced by the work I do in the classroom, even though I’ve put some version of this statement in nearly all of the 200ish academic job applications I’ve submitted. Here it is, right out of my mouth (er, fingers), in the job letter that led to my recently being hired as an Assistant Professor at Marylhurst University: “My research has considerable influence on my teaching.” To speak frankly, this line is bullshit, something I felt pressured to write by colleagues and in a half-dozen academic job search workshops.

And by “bullshit,” I don’t mean that what I said was false. I mean that the phrasing was disingenuous. Put simply, my research is my teaching. For me, the two practices are inextricable from one another. When I was finishing my PhD, I didn’t “teach to my dissertation” as so many academics recommend. My dissertation was born out of my teaching, out of interactions I had with students and out of my witnessing countless interactions between students.

It would be an oversimplification, though, to say just that my teaching is a source (or even the primary source) for my published writing. I would go even further than this to say that teaching itself has become, for me, my most important act of writing and publishing. There is a way in which I author myself and my work in the classroom, but I also produce countless tangible artifacts in the service of (or as part of) the act of teaching. The syllabi I publish to the web (like this or this) are an example, living documents that evolve over the term (and hopefully even after the term is over).

I will even go so far as to say that my syllabi are peer-reviewed, not only approved by the various department chairs I’ve worked for but also reviewed by the colleagues I share my work with and by the larger scholarly community that use (and sometimes cite) the work I’ve done. The syllabi I create also evolve through careful work with students (who I consider my closest learning community peers).

The scholarly work I produce in collaboration with students doesn’t stop there. I create class projects that have students working closely with each other and with me. In 2011, while teaching multimodal composition at GA Tech (a required course for Freshman), I had classes of 25 students working together to produce a short horror film. One student, Ben Lambeth, chose to continue working on his class’s film after the semester was over, and I worked with him as an assistant editor (not as his teacher but as an artistic collaborator). Here’s a preview for the finished film, Zombie Proof, and a short behind-the-scenes documentary about its creation. At the same time,  I also worked on GA Tech It Gets Better, a documentary film I co-produced with yet another former student, outside any assigned class project.

As I’ve continued to evolve as a scholar and teacher, I’ve become more and more concerned with thinking about ways to make what I do in the classroom and what I do in the safe confines of a word-processing window more public. The impetus for my scholarly work and publishing is to do my pedagogy in much larger and more open spaces. I teach, because I have to, because it’s in my bones. I write, because it allows me to teach more and to teach more people.

One way I’ve worked to bring my teaching and scholarly lives into closer public conversation is to have my CV and Teaching Portfolio exist alongside one another on my personal homepage. I’ve also begun publishing more about pedagogy and my teaching practices, something I’ve formalized through Hybrid Pedagogy. Finally, I force myself to build my scholarly writing out of the work I do in the classroom and to share my scholarly work in the classroom. This is particularly possible when I’ve taught writing, where I am able to work with my students as part of (not just facilitator of) a community of writers. It is students in writing classes I’ve taught, in fact, that I credit for the completion of my dissertation.

It’s important for me, as a teacher and scholar, to be open not just with my intellectual and pedagogical products but even more so with my academic process and pedagogical practices. This intention has been the driving force behind my most recent scholarly writing / pedagogical project, Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal on Teaching & Technology. An open-access networked journal, Hybrid Pedagogy creates meaningful connections between discussions of critical pedagogy, digital pedagogy, and online pedagogy. The journal also invites its audience to participate in (and be an integral part of) the peer review process, and thus makes transparent (and interrogates) academic publishing practices. In this way, Hybrid Pedagogy is a journal about pedagogy while also taking a pedagogical approach to publishing, by allowing its readers to peek behind the proverbial curtain of the publishing machine. In the wake of rapid changes in publishing, education, and technology, this kind of openness and transparency is becoming less and less an experimental indulgence and more and more a brunt necessity.

[Charlotte Frost’s companion-piece (“Pedagogy as Publishing”) offers a peek into the process of the creation and publishing of this article by Jesse and the one Charlotte wrote simultaneously for Hybrid Pedagogy.]

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