10 Steps to Successful Co-Authoring

collaborationMy doctoral journey is full of new experiences, each its own journey into learning.  Most recently, and cause for my “silence” as of late: co-authoring scholarly work. Since completion of the piece, I have taken time to reflect on my own experience and hear the stories of others’.

To be clear, this was not the first time I have collaborated, and in many contexts I prefer working with others.  What makes or breaks a co-authoring experience and why was this one so challenging?  I came up with 10 factors to consider in the process that apply to co-authoring but also other forms of remote collaboration.  Some of these may be obvious, but I felt it was important to provide a framework from the baseline.

1. Know your co-author. Take the time to learn about them.  What are their interests, the skills that can contribute to the collaboration?  What is their availability and their life beyond the paper to create context?  This helps build trust and rapport as creates a baseline for understanding when “life happens.
2. Know yourself. Consider the same for yourself.  What are your interests and skills? What you can contribute and your availability.
3. Shared purpose. Understand the motivation for each contributor; both for the piece and why and how the piece will be used.
4. Define roles and responsibilities at the start.  These can be flexible as things come up in the process, but changes need to be agreed upon and clear.
5. Cloud Sharing. Determine where documents and supporting materials will be shared and accessed.
6. Regular meetings that are recorded with action items and deadlines.  Just like any process, knowing the next steps helps maintain the flow.
7. Define a clear outline / framework to work from.
8. Know where you are at. Determine structure for tracking changes and saving versions.
9. Readability. Writing styles can vary greatly; grammar, vocabulary, use of metaphors and images.  Determine the best way to have a shared voice that allows the styles to work together without disrupting the flow.
10. Humility on both parts.  Let the shared purpose determine the editing process, not personal opinion.  Respect others work, but also their revisions if they feed the shared purpose.

I welcome your thoughts on what makes or breaks a co-authoring experience for you.
Note: The two co-authoring projects completed recently are quite different. One is to be presented at a conference in July by my co-author and the other will provide the research component to a documentary film.

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Interview on Research on Value of Visual Practice


130418 Rock the Monkey with Heidi Forbes Oste from Alphachimp Studio Inc. on Vimeo.

Thanks to Peter Durand at AlphaChimp Studios for a great opportunity to share my research with the visual practice community. The  video (click on image to right) shows the visual recording he did while we spoke as well as being able to hear the interview. He breaks it down into sections in his blogpost, if you only want to hear specific parts.: http://alphachimpu.com/rock-the-monkey-visual-practice-with-heidi-forbes-oste/

I am glad to know that the research has been helpful so far to the community of practitioners. I hope it will help grow the field and the adoption of these practices in formal meetings and events. I am happy to share my research and further thoughts on the practice at events and meetings. If you have any research or materials that provide evidence, please share them.  Together, we can strengthen the argument. Education will lead the visual practice from a “nice to have” to “must have” in the first stage of planning.

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5 for 2011: Walk the Talk to the Finish

I admit, I have always been a little impatient with technology.  Somehow I was born with the “when” gene not the “if”.  It has served me well in deciding where to live, what path to choose and the methodology to get there.  As one friend so aptly told me, “you are one of those people that has to swim across the river with the rope to determine where the bridge will be placed.”  I admit, there were times, when the current was too strong and I swam back to safety in order to survive. I realize I have had the luxury of a safe shore to return to.  For the most part, my tenacity (others might call me “stubborn”) eventually got me to the other side.  What it takes most of the time is neither the tenacity/stubborness nor the strength, but rather the belief in the path and the result.  Often this takes a leap of faith, but that is part of the process of acceptance of the result. I have always been determined to conquer my “what if’s.”

So enough of metaphorically speaking, as there is much to be said there, but may risk being “fluffy.”  After a nice off-line break in which I had the opportunity to catch up on much overdue reading and sleep, I found myself excited for many things in 2011.  This is what I wish to share with you.  You can call them predictions, you can call them wishes, you can call them dreams.  I will do whatever I can in my power to help them come to fruition. Read More

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