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Open Educational Resources Collective Publishing Workflow

Agree and Document Expectations with Co-Authors

Working with Co-Authors

When inviting co-authors to contribute to your textbook, you’ll need to clarify important details, such as:

  • who will own the copyright to the chapters/book
  • which open access licence you’ll be using and what this means
  • whether contributing authors will be compensated and how much
  • details about their contribution, including:
    • topic
    • word count
    • structure and layout (including sections and subsections, number and type of images, tables, graphs and other support resources)
    • timeline and deadline for each draft
    • timeline and deadline to review copyedits and make revisions.

It’s a good idea to outline these expectations in a contract or written agreement such as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to avoid misunderstandings. This will make it easier to answer questions or settle disputes that arise during the writing process.

If you plan to include students as contributing authors, The Rebus Community’s A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students can help you navigate this process. 

Onboarding New Co-Authors

Once you’ve recruited your co-authors, you’ll need to share how you plan to work together as a team. This might include:

  • explaining the writing and editorial process
  • sharing your adopted style guide
  • sharing or pointing to a model chapter
  • confirming deadlines
  • sharing any MOUs, contracts or agreements and asking co-authors to sign
  • sharing and providing access to any tools or channels the team uses to communicate (e.g. Microsoft Teams)
  • sharing any tracking sheets or other resources you’re using to manage tasks or the project (e.g. group Trello board).

While you should put this information in writing so co-authors can refer back to it, it’s also a good idea to set up a meeting to go over it. This is a chance to go through the details, answer any questions they have about the project or their role and introduce them to the rest of your team. 

Communicating with Co-Authors

Make sure you stay in contact with your co-authors throughout the project, including:

  • keeping them apprised of changes to the project schedule, additional work, delays, etc.
  • checking in regularly on their tasks
  • sending them frequent updates on the progress being made overall.

It’s also helpful to ask for their feedback about how the project is unfolding.

Remember that your co-authors are volunteering their time and expertise on your project – even if they’re being compensated. Do whatever you can to make it a positive experience and recognise their contributions however you can.


Adapted from:

Contributing Authors’ in Self-Publishing Guide by Lauri M. Aesoph, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

‘Day 26: Expand Your Co-Authorship Base’ in The 30-Day Impact Challenge by Stacy Konkiel, licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.

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.