This Twitter chat was dedicated to co-authoring (hosted by @llmunro)
This Twitter chat was dedicated to co-authoring (hosted by @llmunro)
Little did I know when I started PhD2Published that it would literally take me all over the world. After five hectic years we have finally given PhD2Published the overhaul it deserves. We are still fine-tuning things so please forgive us if it’s not perfect. We are also working on a new sign-up system for Academic Writing Month to stop the spreadsheet from crashing. I am massively, hugely and spectacularly grateful to everyone who has engaged with the project over the years and I hope you’ll still be around for the next five! Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!
Charlotte Frost and Jesse Stommel met (as they often do) in a Google Doc to do some writing. This time, however, they invited a group of people to join them, and they demonstrated how and why they write together in Google Docs. In the blog post below, you can read the text they generated, but the original Google Doc they used can also be viewed as can the video of them writing together (which we’ve included below). If you have any further questions ask away in the comments section of this post.
My name is Charlotte Frost and I am a Visiting Assistant Professor here at SCM in Hong Kong. I run lots of projects looking at writing in an academic context including PhD2Published and AcWriMo. My other work is focused on digital and new media arts and the history of net art (the latter of which was the subject for my thesis). Jesse and I regularly work in Google Docs together on all manner of things because apart from anything else its fun.
My name is Jesse Stommel and I’m a teacher and researcher working in the US. I teach Digital Humanities and Digital Literacies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m also the Director of Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. I’ve been working closely with Charlotte for quite a while, and we have begun to inhabit each other’s writing in such a way that we often finish each other’s sentences.
In this session we’re going to:
Accountability: Writing together is a huge procrastination crusher. There’s safety in numbers and it makes it much less daunting to look at a blank screen with someone else there – you are NOT alone! (cause someone else is right there with you, prodding your sentences into life!)
Camaraderie: Having someone to talk to and write with and even ask questions about all sorts of things helps (especially questions about writing and academia of course!). It can make it easier to get started (see above) and make the whole process a lot more enjoyable.
Instant Proof-reading and Peer-review: Your partner can read for sense AND mistakes – if they don’t get it, others won’t either. But also, let them find your mistakes and save your blushes later on.
Less Work: If you work on something like this together in a Google Doc (whether it’s a blog post, article, outline, etc.) you halve the work. And, if you’re working with someone like Charlotte [says Jesse] it’s even less than half, because she’s very very prolific.
Progression: It will move your thinking and writing forward AND fast. There’s a difference between ‘thinking writing’ and ‘doing writing’ the former helps you work something out, the latter helps you show what you’ve worked out. A collaborative document can be used for either, but if nothing else, use it for ‘thinking writing’. It’s a sandbox for making sense of something of something.
Why not? Learning is social and doing this kind of work with collaborators helps improve your work and your partners. Writing does not have to be solitary. Sure, some writing prefers to live alone, but sometimes writing wants to live right alongside its readers.
(there’s lots of stuff to consider as you get started, but sometimes the best thing to do is just start putting words on the screen and work the details out as you go). Here are some strategies we’ve found work well:
Time and Place:
Set up a Google Doc and a specific time to meet – as well as the duration of your meeting.
Your work can continue asynchronously outside the scheduled time (especially if you’re working in different time zones) but writing together at the same time is key – so try to do that regularly.
But perhaps only do it for an hour at a time, it’s a tiring practice if you’re working very collaboratively.
Establish the ‘permissions’ you’ll set for the document, who can edit, who can comment, who can read, etc.
Decide whether you want your document open to the web.
If you’re inviting more people to work with you, make sure that you make them ‘editors’.[currently this document is set up to only allow folks aside from Jesse and Charlotte to view the document — or participate in the chat — though we often open up our documents to a wider group of editors at some point during our process.]
The Google Doc Spreadsheet for AcWriMo for example is public and open to anyone to write on.
Types of Writing:
As well as writing your main body of text you’ll also be:
Using the chatbox for live discussion about all things writerly/academia and to arrange what you’ll achieve in your joint writing sessions.
Using the ‘comment’ function to select parts of the document to provide targeted feedback.
Decide how to navigate the various writing spaces together.
We meet in the chat box to get started and to arrange what we’ll do during a writing session, and we’ll often pop back into the chat box when we need to confer about our process.
We’ll also use the chat box as a space for dividing up what each of us will do during a writing session.
Sometimes, we will write in different colors just for fun to distinguish our voices. But we usually take that out as we polish the document.
Partner with one other person and both use the same GoogleDoc to each work on a different project but so that your progress is witnessed and/or so you can get someone else to periodically review your work and comment on it, etc. (There are anxieties associated with writing in public in this way, so doing this work helps build trust.) Sometimes, Charlotte will work at the bottom of a Google Doc while I work at the top. This gives us some amount of privacy but the ability to “call each other” into our section of the document.
Write in a Google Doc and make it public for viewing and reviewing (you might allow people to comment but not rewrite the text itself). Offering up a piece of work to a specific group in this way is a great technique for obtaining instant peer review.
Example: Arts Future Book is one of Charlotte’s research projects and in this instance she wrote a paper and left it open to public peer-reviewing (using a blog rather than Google Docs though)
Use one Google Doc for a large group as a sort of central repository for content.
You can brainstorm in the same doc and share ideas. and shape it up into something later. An Extreme example: of this is DigiWriMo Novel in a Day (which had about 100 people working in one Google Doc.)
Write collaboratively with one or more people. Take turns to draft sections of the doc (perhaps its an article you’re writing together) and use the comments to discuss each other’s sections and how to combine them better.
Take turns to draft sections but then work on the same paragraph at the same time to review, comment AND edit.
Example: A document that started with 4 authors, evolved to 12, and the rest of the web to contribute to the creation of a Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age:
Stage Fright: It will expose how many times you change a sentence before you finish it (or how many typos you make 😉 Charlotte likes to make typos, as do I. Luckily, we both find typos immensely charming.
Solution: If you see the other person writing at the speed of light you can lose your train of thought. Just carry on in your own way at your own pace until you feel comfortable. One of the most important things you can lean is that we all write differently and we have to find our own practice for ourselves.
Disagreements: It’s easy to get attached to your writing and hard sometimes to let someone else into your process. Occasionally, you will find yourself unable to share a common voice.
Solution: Decide in advance how you’ll resolve your writing issues with your writing partner. Agree to Skype, meet, or just agree to differ on what ever the issue is. Sometimes, you might decide that you want to write certain sections of a document independently, while continuing to collaborate on others.
Technical Problems: Technology can be temperamental. Occasionally, the gods of technology just don’t rule in our favor.
Solution: If you lose more than 15 mins to lost connections/Google Docs not refreshing it might best to just give up and work alone or on something else. But work out the next time you CAN meet and stick to it.
Ownership: Who owns this document? Who gets to decide its boundaries? When we work together in this way, who is the “author” of a document like this?
Solution: While we have both clearly been co-composing this particular example, what if one of us were writing and the other were primarily editing and offering feedback? If you set out to work on something together, even if one of your writes more of it, we think it’s probably best to just agree from the start that the work will be collaborative. This kind of work can’t be quantified in a cut and dry fashion. The production of one word is sometimes more difficult than the production of 10. Actual writing isn’t the only thing you bring to the table when you collaborate and we find that the balance of the work evens out in the end.
This Google Doc workshop was offered as part of the Improving Your Academic Writing workshop series Charlotte gave at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong as part of AcWriMo 2013.
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!
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!
Four PhD students at the University of York are currently piloting an innovative peer review process for developing postgraduate conference papers into an edited collection. In the first of a series of posts, Sarah Pett (whose has her own blog and Tweets as @essiepett) discusses the project’s ethos, as well as the practicalities of turning an ambitious idea into a successful reality.
Prompted by a shared experience of the difficulties inherent in positioning our individual research projects in relation to postcolonial studies, in 2010 Anna Bocking-Welch, Isabelle Hesse, James Fraser and myself established Postcolonial Perspectives, an interdisciplinary reading group for postgraduates at the University of York. From the beginning, the group focused on unconventional approaches to the postcolonial, with an emphasis on contexts that troubled its paradigms. It soon became apparent that we were not alone in our frustrations – discussions with postgraduates from across the UK revealed that we were grappling with an issue of increasing relevance and concern to PGRs working in a range of disciplines, periods, and contexts. Thus the Living Beyond Theory: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Postcolonial postgraduate conference was born. The event was a resounding success, and highlighted an emerging body of research into contexts that trouble the established paradigm of postcolonial studies. But how, we wondered, to sustain the dialogue that shaped the event, and disseminate the wealth of ideas it generated? Given the different stages of our projects, it will be several years until our individual monographs appear, while their disciplinary and contextual diversity means that our shared concerns would inevitably be diluted. With the help of Dr Jason Edwards at the University of York, as well as funding from the Postcolonial Studies Association and York’s Centre for Modern Studies, we decided to keep the momentum generated during the conference going by developing a selection of the papers into an edited collection.
Why open peer review?
“Blind peer review is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.”
Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik begins his report on the Future of Peer Review session at the 2012 MLA convention with this provocative statement from CUNY’s Dr Aaron J Barlow. As Barlow points out in his paper, “The Bearable Light of Openness: Renovating Obsolete Peer-Review Bottlenecks”, the rise of digital publishing has brought traditional peer review procedures into question. For Barlow, its impression of “quality control” is no longer a fair exchange for the publication delays and complex, occasionally unethical, personal and institutional agendas blind peer review entails – a foible I know all too well. Full of the bravado of youth, I thought I’d try my hand at academic publishing soon after completing my BA. Without any knowledge of established protocol, I made the mistake of submitting my paper to two journals simultaneously. Not a wise move, but it did open my eyes at an early stage to the inconsistencies of the field. One journal returned my article within the fortnight, accompanied by a largely positive review that recommended only a handful of minor revisions. Several months later, I received a two page review from the other journal, which included an ultimatum: significantly shift the focus of the paper, or it won’t be published. The recommended shift seemed to reflect the reviewer’s research interests, rather than my own, which was an unpleasant and demoralizing experience for a young researcher. More importantly, however, it was disabling, leaving me with no platform from which to respond to the reviewer’s diktat.
Clearly, this is not something we wished to replicate in the preparation of the edited collection. What’s more, as postgraduate researchers, we have been aware from the outset that the collection has to be tip-top to stand a chance with a “proper” academic press. And finally, with an editorial committee made up of four researchers in the final stages of their PhDs, we simply couldn’t afford to commit to providing each participant with the level of feedback and writing support we hoped to offer. To optimize what we could do in the time available, we opted to select and improve articles via an intensive, collaborative process based around realtime participation. To do so, we designed a series of open peer review workshops that allowed our authors to participate in providing and responding to feedback over the course of several months: a model that closely resembles that employed by Kairos, whose editor Cheryl Ball appeared alongside Barlow at the MLA. Kairos—a journal of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy—employs a three tier review process. In tiers one and two, submissions are evaluated by individual editors before being forwarded for discussion to the editorial board as a whole. In tier three, a staff member is assigned to mentor the author in implementing revisions for up to three months. The Postcolonial Perspectives publication workshop series sought to emulate and even build on this process. In stage one, the editorial committee selected papers from the conference to invite as contributors; stage two involved refining the ethos of the project and requesting that contributors develop their papers with this in mind. Stage three is when the realtime workshops came into play, allowing contributors and reviewers to meet and discuss feedback over the course of a day.
The first workshop, which took place at York on 16 January 2012, was extremely successful—one academic staff member said he was keen to adopt our model in his own work—and demonstrates how a collaborative open peer review model can be implemented at a grassroots level to support the career development of PGRs and ECRs. The second workshop is scheduled to take place in early May, during which participants will go over the final revisions and collaborate in refining the book proposal and editorial introduction as a group. We are also looking into using an open source manuscript management and publishing system such as the Public Knowledge Project’s Open Journal Systems as a means of continuing the workshops’ collaborative format remotely. While the project’s aim—publication with an academic press—is ambitious, the workshop format means that, at worst, our contributors can walk away with a carefully revised paper for submission to an international peer reviewed journal, a committed mentor, and a handful of supportive peers with shared research interests and career goals.
The radical in me would love the project to culminate in a high profile open access publication, accompanied by a creative and thought-provoking social media campaign to raise awareness about postcolonial studies, its contributions and its limitations. For the time being, we’ll continue to play it safe, but it won’t stop me thinking about the possibilities for reform in academic publishing, and the instrumental role PGRs have to play in changing the game. Hopefully before too long there will be a copy of Beyond the Postcolonial Paradigm: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Parapostcolonial on a library shelf—or Kindle—near you…
A few weeks ago I indulged another of my slightly off-the-wall passions by heading to Glasgow for a Yes gig. Progressive rock (at least the softer side of this movement) is one of my ever-growing interests. Before discovering these bands I only listened to classical music in the assumption that only poor musicians play rock. How wrong I was! I am always amazed by the dexterity, talent and incredible musicianship of these performers and, even as they get older, their commitment to creating challenging music. For these guys are risk takers. They do not hide behind G,D,C chords or 4/4 time signatures; their music is dangerous, unpredictable and exciting. Through all the perils of tough tempos and impossible lyrics, they strive for excellence while being aware that such risks might necessarily mean that perfection is impossible. As always, I find it inconceivable to disconnect my work from my passions and began to wonder how we might incorporate a level of risk taking into our daily academic lives.
It is certainly important to develop this strategy in teaching. Safe teaching, trudging over well-worn ground is as dull as it sounds. Risky teaching (exploring new methods of learning, asking students for feedback, incorporating new material on to the syllabus, making lectures more interactive) is exciting, though, of course, fraught with danger. Imagining the classroom/lecture hall/studio as a space of exploration, experimentation and constant learning on both sides of that artificial student-faculty divide transforms our teaching style.
We’re changing a few things here so please bear with us.
You may have seen that Sarah-Louise, our managing editor since January, has moved onto pastures new (she’ll like that metaphor, she’s mad about sheep!). The idea behind editing this site is to provide useful research into academic publishing for the wider PhD2Published community and in doing such, move your own career forwards. Sarah has managed to achieve a mind-boggling amount over the last 9 months and it seemed high time she focus on her new projects and give someone else a go. As a result, we’re interested to hear from anyone who fancies either running or contributing to the site. You’ll get all the support you need and don’t need to bring a single skill to the table – just a desire to build a shared knowledge base for us early-career academics. Just drop us a line and we can have a chat and see what works best for you. And bear in mind that the first two editors of the site (founder/director Charlotte, and Sarah herself) both now have book contracts (and more than one journal article published or in the pipeline) so we can guarantee that getting involved works!
Our amazing designer Sam Beddoes is also helping us tighten up the design a bit, and make sure buried content is more accessible. So the look and feel of the site is about to change just a little bit too. And then we’ll be back on track with lots more useful info!
Leonard Cassuto said in the Guardian: ‘If a graduate student asks me, “Should I blog?” my answer, at least right now, would still be, “Probably not “’. Just weeks ago I gave a talk at the British Library saying very much the opposite. Cassuto is a more established academic than myself, but I still think I have a point – and so did the people who invited me to give that opinion.
To discuss the fact that I came across Cassuto’s article and talked about it on Twitter would be to open another – if related – can of worms. Suffice to say that engaging with twitter for this type of academic commentary is the way I work. I’ve said time and again that Twitter and blogging allow me to usefully interact with so many academics – and non academics I hasten to add – whose opinions I value. I stand by this method of working as it helps me find great new people and ideas on a daily basis and this regularly directly informs my work.
I do recognize that my subject area lends itself particularly well to this type of information exchange. I’m currently writing a book on art mailing list culture and social media and my area of expertise is in art forms that thrive in these networks of sharing. I have had many people point out to me that they themselves aren’t working in a field where social media is considered appropriate and/or they are handling sensitive data that can’t be shared. However, I still take issue with much of what Cassuto says and I still think online discussion platforms have their place in academia.
Like Cassuto, I will divide my response into two sections. The first deals with form because I would argue that he doesn’t credit blogging or any other type of online communication with being anything other than ‘unpublished’, ‘unedited’, ‘unofficial’ writing. There is much about his tone that indicates he sees it as a lesser form of writing and I take issue with that. Read more
I was recently interviewed about PhD2Published for the excellent blog Adventures in Career Development by Tristram Hooley. It was great to reflect on how PhD2Published started and has grown over the last eighteen months or so. And I was really honoured Tristram was interested in the project.
My interview starts like this:
AiCD: Who are you?
My name is Dr Charlotte Frost I’m the 2011/2012 International Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I’m a broadcaster and academic interested in the relationship between art and technology. My particular specialism is the impact of digital technologies on art historical discourse, but I’ve also been studying and writing about the developing field of Digital and New Media art for over ten years. I teach art contextual modules at Writtle School of Design and the University of Westminster. And I run a range of projects that support my research objectives while creating platforms for knowledge exchange and experimentation – particularly with reference to publishing.
AiCD: Tell us a little bit about PhD2Published? Read more
“Every moment has its discontents, its challenges and failures. Yet no moment is every truly last, at least not so long as we persist in human conversation.”
From the start I knew that if The Comics Grid project was attractive to others it was going to grow fast. I therefore considered essential to design specific guidance documentation, that was later reviewed by the core editorial team. What started with one person, then five, has become now thirteen active contributors, including reviewers and editors. We have published 52 posts since January 2011, and have since maintained our publication schedule of two original posts per week. The blog has been viewed almost 28,000 times, and our analytics reveal that most readers find us by making comics research-related queries on Google.
A sense of mission is what has kept editors and contributors working together in spite of the logical challenges imposed by lack of face-to-face interaction (all work is done online, by email, on shared Google docs and on the blog’s dashboard). In what follows I’d like to share with you one the points that summarise our mission:
This week we are exploring different types of publishing with posts from Dr. Ernesto Priego. Dr Ernesto Priego is an editor, journalist, translator, poet, curator and researcher. He has been writing and teaching about comics since 1994. He lives in London. You can follow him on twitter here
“If collaboration and team working are going to be expected more of humanities researchers in future, then we need to think about how to make it seem more normal.”
One of the most satisfying and challenging projects I’ve been involved with recently is The Comics Grid. When people ask me what it is all about, I say “collaboration.” After I submitted the final draft of my PhD dissertation (ambitiously titled “The Comic Book in the Age of Digital Reproduction”), I couldn’t wait any longer to to create an actual platform, a research and teaching tool, something concrete (online resources are very much concrete and not “virtual” in the sense of “unreal”) with which to address a lack I perceived in the field.
This field is actually a multiplicity of fields. Since what has been called “comics scholarship” studies multimodal texts the methodologies employed to study them should equally be multmodal, i.e., combining different disciplines until not too long ago perceived (and in some cases still perceived) as essentially different. Media studies, communication studies, information studies, cultural studies, film studies, archeology, library science, history, geography, you name it: people studying comics within and outside academia have always employed a combination of approaches and terminologies produced and transmitted from these disciplinary areas. Read more