Saturday, January 26, 2013

More on Google Site

Some time ago I noted how central Google Site (formally Google Docs)has become to much of my work. In truth, it is really not about Google Docs, but about the potential of collaborative, document sharing platforms in general. While I hear that some are even better than Google Site, It has served me well and I have yet to explore other platforms.
So, why am I such a fan of using these collaborative tools? They help me engage collaborators in new ways.

This format allows me to invite several people as potential collaborators. I invite people who I have worked with in the past who I know are good collaborators, students who might help, and often a colleague or two whom I would love to collaborate with. I invite these people into the document once I have a few thoughts about the direction that i want the article to take (if I am indeed at that point yet), and ask if they are willing to participate. I say, in this introduction, that the authorship of the article will not be decided until we are further into the process, and that it will depend upon contribution, not “status.” Or, if it is an article that I really want to be first author of, i say this, and then say that authorship after me is open.
 Of course, this does not fit with standard models of scholarly collaboration, where the rules of the game favor those with rank and power.  In these collaborations, I try to engage people in more egalitarian relationships, where authorship is about work and contribution. 

Think about what this does. It allows people who are really motivated to power through, get things done, and know they will be rewarded. It also allows people who only contribute a bit to do so, guilt free, knowing that their contribution will not be judged- they just will be at the end of the authorship line.
Does this always work? No, it does not. It is not for those with huge egos, huge agendas, and huge trust issues. It is great for those who need to publish, and publish fast and love working with others. If you have a good team of people, and you all agree that you will work until it is done, and then move onto the next idea (or, you might have several articles happening at the same time, like we do), than this might be for you.
If you are the first author, you can set the guidelines before hand if you really need something out the door. Colleagues and can say yes, or no. Give this a try-its a ton of fun, and I always learn a great deal from the process.

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