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Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Allocate and Manage Writing and Publishing Tasks 

Defining Publishing Roles and Responsibilities

Whether you’re the author or project manager of an open textbook, it’s helpful to define your roles and responsibilities and how they relate to those of others on the team. Discussing expectations early on can keep emotions under control and the project on track.


The author’s responsibilities depend on whether they’re working with co-authors or a project manager, as well as the needs of the project itself. Common responsibilities include:

Project Managers

The project manager may be the author, or a librarian, educational designer or other publishing team member. Their responsibilities depend on the strengths and expertise of team members and the project itself. Common responsibilities include:

  • managing the project team and timeline
  • communicating with authors, editors, designers, etc.
  • advising on Creative Commons licensing, copyright compliance and finding and using openly licensed content
  • creating metadata for the textbook and arranging hosting in institutional and OER repositories
  • marketing the textbook reporting on the textbook’s impact, including adoption rate and student savings
  • providing funds and/or budget management and invoicing.

Additional Roles

Some other roles commonly involved in textbook production:

  • developmental editor – provides consultation on content structure and flow at the early stages
  • copyeditor – ensures the textbook draft makes sense and has a consistent structure and voice
  • proofreader – reviews the textbook for grammatical, spelling and typographical errors and makes corrections
  • typesetter – creates consistent appearance of the textbook’s text, layout and spacing
  • graphic designer – designs the textbook’s cover, as well as visual content like illustrations and infographics
  • printer – provides print copies to students (often the campus bookstore or an online provider).

Most books are written with an authoring tool like Microsoft Word or Google Docs and then transferred to a publishing platform like Pressbooks, so you’ll also need to decide which of these roles is responsible for copying, pasting and reformatting content.

Managing Tasks

When you’re planning your open textbook, you’ll need to account for a number of tasks across each of these steps:

  • research –  locating and keeping track of references
  • gathering or creating resources – sourcing or creating materials including photos, illustrations, graphs, tables, figures, videos and audio files (and keeping track of copyright and licensing information for copied or adapted content)
  • writing the book outline –  outlining how the chapters and chapters sections (including front and back matter, learning objectives, exercises, key terms and takeaways, glossary, etc.) will be organised
  • finding supplemental resources – sourcing ancillary or supplementary resources such as test banks
  • planning each chapter – determining the structure for each chapter in addition to the research and resources required to write it
  • peer review peer review of your textbook by subject matter experts
  • fixing as you go regularly reviewing the style and format, as well as auditing external images and resources to ensure all are openly licensed or in the public domain
  • copyediting checking for spelling, grammar and consistency, including checking the book against the style guide
  • proofreading – checking copyedits have been applied and there are no formatting issues
  • preparing for publication – conducting a final check of your book and organising print on demand copies if needed
  • promotion launching and communicating about your new book.

You can use a project timeline to record the tasks involved in each step, along with the team member(s) responsible and estimated completion dates. Remember to allow time for when you and your team are first learning to work together and with the book, and for unexpected delays.

As the project progresses, there may be opportunities for team members to take on other roles. Each time you identify a new task, consider:

  • Who is the best person for this task?
  • Can their other responsibilities be adjusted to free up time?
  • Is there anyone else who could help?


Adapted from:

Defining Your Role’ in Authoring Open Textbooks by Melissa Falldin and Karen Lauritsen, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

Project Charter and Timeline’ in Self-Publishing Guide by Lauri M. Aesoph, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.