Different Ways Of Collaborating

Sharples (1999) describes three main ways of proceeding with multiple authorship: parallel, sequential and reciprocal. Parallel working is the classic 'division of labour', where a job is divided up among the workers into sub-tasks. Different people do different jobs. Sequential working is like a production line. The first person hands on the part-completed topic for the next one to continue. Reciprocal working is the way a football or basketball team operates. All the partners work together, mutually adjusting their activities to take account of each other's contributions.

However, these descriptions do not match (in my experience) the methods used by most joint authors of academic papers in the social sciences. Sharples' descriptions fit better with notions of hierarchy and power in a scientific laboratory. Writers of social science papers are more likely to maintain a collegiate or 'dialogic' form of collaboration, so that colleagues are often equal partners in the enterprise. Here, there are several possibilities for pairs of writers, as shown in Table 4.7.1, ranging from Level 1 — no collaboration — to Level 4 — high collaboration. Sometimes, this collaboration is intensive, when two or more collaborators work closely together on a single text, and sometimes it is less intensive, when authors might collaborate together at times and work on the paper separately at others. Lee and Bozerman (2005) usefully distinguish in this context between the number of collaborators (which can be large or small) and the number of collaborations between them (which can be high or low).

Table 4.7.2 compares the advantages and disadvantages of working in pairs, listed by educational research psychologists. These separate roles, of

Table 4.7.1 Different kinds of collaboration when writing in pairs described by 28 educational psychologists

1.

No collaboration

First author writes it all

2a

First author writes all

2b

First author writes some parts

Second author comments

Second author writes other parts

First author revises the whole

First author revises the whole

3a

First author writes all

3b

First author writes some parts

Second author comments

Second author writes other parts

First author revises the whole

Both authors comment

Second author comments

First author revises the whole

First author revises the whole

4a

As above, but multiple exchanges

4b

As above, but multiple exchanges

until both authors are satisfied

until both authors are satisfied

Note: Authors also vary in their ways of collaboration according to who they collaborate with, and the topics on which they are writing.

Note: Authors also vary in their ways of collaboration according to who they collaborate with, and the topics on which they are writing.

Reproduced with permission from Hartley et al. (2003), p. 256. © Baywood Publishing Company.

course, are merging. The advent of new technology has meant that it is now easier to exchange drafts of manuscripts and to work on them together (see Chapter 4.8). As noted in Chapter 2.2, the APA Publication Manual (2001) gives clear advice on the last point in Table 4.7.2 (allocating credit for authorship).

Table 4.7.2 The advantages and disadvantages of writing in pairs

Advantages

Each serves as an editor for the other.

One person may have different psychological skills from the other, which can then be pooled.

One person may have different subject matter expertise from the other, which can lead to the research being done in the first place.

Writing in pairs provides training for student co-authors.

Disadvantages

Problems arise if colleagues don't get on well together.

Production can be slowed down if one colleague has too many other things to do.

It is more of an effort for the first author if he or she is working with a student.

It is more of an effort for the first author if the colleague's work is insufficient/ inadequate (and vice versa).

There may be potential hassles over who will be designated as first author.

Reproduced with permission from Hartley et al. (2003), p. 256. © Baywood Publishing Company.

Table 4.7.3 Typical activities of writing partners

• Report progress from previous meeting;

• Discuss any anticipated barriers to writing, and how to overcome them;

• Read and share mutual products; and

• Decide on when next to meet, and on what each partner should bring.

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