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Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Call For Contributions From Other Authors

A common method for finding co-authors is to send out a call for contributions inviting collaborators to join your open textbook project.

Writing and Refining the Call

A call for contributions is like a job advertisement. You need to be clear about what you’re looking for and what you’re asking people to do.

A typical call is structured as follows:

  • introduce yourself
  • introduce the project with a link to more information
  • describe the position(s) you’re looking to fill
  • describe the requirements for participation (e.g. specific qualifications, skills or experience)
  • specify the deadline for applying
  • provide instructions for how to express interest (e.g. respond to the email, post in a public forum, join an activity on an online platform, etc.).

You should also include details that get readers excited about the project, including:

  • who they’ll be working with
  • the project’s mission
  • the benefits of participating (e.g. publishing credit, greater pedagogical flexibility, equitable access to learning resources for students, etc.)
  • any unique aspects of the project (e.g. if your book is a first in some way or being used for an interesting purpose).

You may also want to add a note encouraging people from traditionally underrepresented groups to contribute

Sharing the Call

The more people who see your call, the more likely it is that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Encourage everyone on the project team to share the call by sending it out to:

  • listservs or mailing lists in your field
  • personal and professional networks
  • colleagues and/or OER champions at your institution(s)
  • social media
  • mailing lists focused on open education
  • community and professional organisations for traditionally underrepresented groups you're trying to reach.

You may also want to cold email people or organisations of interest to ensure they’re aware of your call.

Responding to Expressions of Interest

Some tips for responding to interested contributors:

  • Try to reply within a day or two.
  • Thank everyone for their interest and for volunteering their time. Even if they’re not right for the position(s), they’re still a valuable advocate for the project.
  • If they fit your description, but their availability doesn’t line up, suggest getting back in touch if you’re unable to recruit someone on your preferred timeline.
  • If they don’t fit your description, use the call to explain your decision, and let them know about any more suitable roles.
  • Notify potential contributors once you’ve filled the position(s) and keep them apprised of future tasks and project updates. 

Managing High or Low Response Rates

Sometimes you’ll end up with more volunteers than anticipated. If this happens, consider asking them to collaborate – for example, by co-authoring a chapter.

Other times, you’ll get fewer responses than you’re hoping for. In this case, make the most of the team you have by being flexible about time lines and workloads.

If you don’t receive any suitable responses:

  • look at the questions people are asking to see if you need to add more information
  • re-read the call to see if anything is missing, confusing or unclear
  • ask colleagues or team members for feedback
  • consider whether it’s a busy time of year (e.g. marking)
  • consider whether you’re using the right channels
  • think of ways to lessen the commitment or incentivise participation.

You may need to make some adjustments to your call and keep sending it out until you reach the right audience.

Once you’ve found your co-authors, you’ll need to discuss how you’re going to work together.

Attributions

Adapted from ‘Recruitment Guide’ in The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) by Apurva Ashok and Zoe Wake Hyde, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.