August Office Hours: Publishing Textbooks vs. Monographs & Journals (Audio Transcript)

Office Hours

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript.

Audio Transcript


  • Danielle Mead Skjelver
  • David Alan Rech
  • Chealsye Bowley
  • Karen Lauritsen
  • Zoe Wake Hyde
  • Rajiv Jhangiani

Karen: Hi, everyone, I’m Karen Lauritsen I’m managing director with the Open Textbook Network. We are a community of institutions working together on open education, including open textbook publishing. And we, too, are delighted to partner with Rebus community on Office Hours and other issues in this space. And Office Hours are monthly sessions, if you haven’t been to one before, it’s pretty informal.

We’ll have guests introduce themselves for a few minutes, and then chat together. And if there are things that you would like to explore in future topics, this is a great time to let us know. Put your suggestions in the chat, let us know what’s on your mind. And then, the one other thing I’ll say is that I’m sure in addition to our three guests, there are many people who have joined the call who also have a lot of great experience and can bring a lot to the conversation. So, I look forward to hearing from many of you today.

Zoe: Excellent, thanks, Karen. So, today we’re expanding our reach a little bit with our topic. So, our focus is typically on open textbooks, today we’re also bringing in monographs and journals as other kinds of publishing that happens, and as it happens, we do also have one of our guests who will speak very clearly through open publishing of monographs and journals, as well, which is a nice alignment with what we work with typically.

And so, these three areas, they obviously they all live within the same sort of area, in academic publishing. And they’re fundamentally really about sharing knowledge, so do have a lot in common. But in terms of the actual publishing processes, they are also really different in some interesting ways. So, that’s kind of what we want to explore today. Think about how they are the same, how they differ, and then, hopefully use that knowledge to really build understanding of all different kinds of publishing.

And for many of you here, if you’re interested in open textbooks, understanding how that process can compare to others can be a really good tool for talking to faculty who are more familiar with others. Or if you yourselves are new to this field, or interested in exploring open textbook publishing in itself, I think this is a nice chance to contrast those. And so, we have three fantastic guest speakers with us today, who can speak to a few different approaches to this topic.

So, first off, we will hear from Danielle Mead Skjelver, who is the course chair and adjunct associate professor at the University of Maryland University College. Followed by that, we’re joined by Chealsye Bowley who is the community manager at Ubiquity Press. And then, following that we have David Alan Rech who is the president and CEO at Scribe. So, we’ll run through those guests in their order.

They’ll speak for a few minutes about their work, and then we’ll get into questions and hopefully hear from many of you as well about this great topic. So, Danielle, I’ll hand over to you, thanks.

Danielle: Okay. You unmuted me, thank you. (Laughs) So, to let you know, I’ve published the traditional route, and then also I’ve done an open access monograph. It was a co-translation that I did with a colleague with the digital press at the University of North Dakota and then, now I am working on a collaborative project that’s an open access textbook. So, going to be talking about my experience with both of those things.

I am not sure how well clarified all this is, so just feel free to ask questions and I’m going to read my comments, because I tend towards tangents. So, I have two quotes for you. One is an old military dictum, and the other is from Jack London’s Sea-Wolf. First, Jack London: “Expect all hell to break loose, but don’t mind it, yours is to do your own work.” Second, the military dictum: “Planning replaces chaos with error.”

These two quotes characterize my open access publishing experience as a translator, and as an editor. My role as an editor is really also as publisher, because in the open access world, it’s all volunteer work, so it’s all hands on deck. So, and even as a translator I did a lot of the publishing side of the work. Most open access publishers are not publishers, they’re scholars, with an altruistic vision of access. They’re doing what they believe needs doing, but this does not mean they know how to do it.

We’re all learning as we go, and this is where Rebus comes in, offering a place to share best practices as well as the things that don’t work. So, my experience as a translator was simply hearing about and witnessing the process of the publisher, learning how to do something that hadn’t been done before. The digital press really was fairly cutting edge, I think it was among the early open access publishers out there. And so, he was really kind of feeling his way in the dark. This is a colleague of mine.

Back to Jack London and the well, I wanted to say, so, this made things slow and makeshift. But also, cooperative and collaborative, which was really exciting, much more so than in the traditional publishing world. So, back to Jack London and the military dictum: “Expect all hell to break loose, but don’t you mind it, yours is to do your own work”. And “planning replaces chaos with error”. I really do mean these things.

So, in textbook publishing, in the open access world, in terms of planning, it really does help. Write out a formal precis for example, you can find ours in the Rebus community and download it and use it as a template. Create spreadsheets to manage people’s tasks and workflow. Write an author guide and peer review guidelines. Do as much of this beforehand as you can, and use it, borrow ours, our stuff is out there on the Rebus community site.

So, be prepared to adjust things and see these documents as living documents. They will eliminate many errors, and that will be very helpful. Also, the process of writing these documents out will help you define and refine your plans, which will reduce the chaos. There will still probably be chaos, especially if you are dealing with multiple authors. If you’re dealing with just one or two, like with a monograph, I don’t think the chaos—

I’m not sure there really is chaos. But when you’re dealing with lots of people, it’s a little chaotic. Anyway, I call my textbook affectionately, or our textbook I should say, my 56-armed head octopus. So, to deal with the chaos of all hell breaking loose and causing other projects to be delayed, you have to figure out what your work is. Define for people on your team including yourself what their roles are, precisely.

For example, I thought I would do a fair amount of the writing in this textbook, but I simply can’t manage to contribute content, while managing workflow. There’s a reason project manager is a full-time job in most organizations. And it turns out that my work as an executive editor of an open access textbook is not to contribute as I would to a volume of scholarly articles that I might edit in the traditional world.

My role as an open access editor is project manager, consensus builder, decision maker, guideline, template and agreement writer, and in many ways, publisher. I’m working in partnership with our publisher. But I found the cover designer, I approved all the proofs, you go through that process and end up doing much of it yourself, or at least that’s my experience. So, when you figure out what your role is let others or ask others to do the things that you can’t.

So, I’m not writing the introduction, which felt like a source of shame and failure. But it’s not, frankly there’s someone on the team that’s much better qualified than I am. This is his area of expertise, where it’s not really mine. Nothing has gone the way I expected it to, but biweekly meetings with Rebus have really helped in terms of the constant readjustment of process.

So, be sure to use the documents in the Rebus community, and use the templates for contracts and recruiting letters, those are wonderful. And I think it’s easier if you have just one or two writers, rather than a whole—I think we have 50 authors, if I remember correctly. It’s very hard to keep track of the flow, who is where and who is doing what. So, I’ll stop there and look to hearing others’ experience.

Zoe: Wonderful, thank you, Danielle and for your kind words, I swear we didn’t put her up to it. But we’ve had a wonderful experience with you together on your project and learned a lot from it. I think you really identified some of the key things there. Great, so now I will hand over to Chealsye from Ubiquity Press.

Chealsye: Hi, everyone. So, as Zoe noted earlier, I’m the community manager for Ubiquity Press. Some days I’m still figuring out what that means. I don’t get to work directly with the publishing cycle. I’m much more internal and external community management. A big project I’ve been working on the past year has been getting governance in order to better address community issues.

But regarding this topic, my introduction to open ed, which I didn’t know at the time that’s what it was, was coming in Fall 2012 when I began a graduate assistantship in scholarly communication during library school. At the time, this was Florida State University. The top item in the repository was effectively a textbook, but it was just a PDF that was added. My psychologist who had tenure decided to write a how to guide to have a better dissertation.

He could have released it as a textbook, maybe a little bit of funds, but instead he released it under a creative commons license. It was the most downloaded repository item, with views around the world. It was amazing to see that impact. And I didn’t know at the time, but that was OER. And that was something that was on a more traditional line with a graduate student audience, that could have been published in a more traditional fashion. And it was so great to see that impact of that piece.

But, fast forwarding to today, Ubiquity Press, I liked what Danielle said about most open access publishers, they’re not publishers, they’re scholars. A lot of individuals who are choosing to make their monographs or textbooks open, often are just scholars who want to share openly and contribute to a stronger public good. And which on a personal belief system that that’s exactly what I would want to do.

Ubiquity was founded by PhD students who wanted more affordable open access publishing options, since they were trying to launch a journal. And that’s really where the root is, about wanting to make it cost effective. We publish primarily open access journals and books, are starting to get into OER, as many of you probably already know, but if you don’t know, I’ll go ahead and plug the book that Rajiv co-edited open, put the link in there.

If you haven’t read it, and you’re someone who’s working in the space, or new to the space, I do think it’s a must read. I am apparently sending to just privately to Michelle, don’t know how that happened, resending that link. But one recent OER type creation I want to highlight is actually from one of our partner presses. Ubiquity operates on a model, we publish our books and journals ourselves as well, but we also just provide hosting solutions to others. And it’s fully branded with that partner press.

And Virginia Tech is one of those partner presses. And they joined last year, and they recently created a student and professor co-authored collection, or co-edited rather, collection about the Beatles. And I think this follows a more traditional way of how some would have published a collection. But, with the engagement of students helping to create this, which I think it really take away— thanks Rajiv. His comment about plugging another resource there.

That really takes away, I think the curtain of how publishing works, especially for people that are intending to go into graduate school, already are, or wanting to stay in academia. Every time I explain how publishing works to someone outside of the space, they’re shocked. I remember the first time I was sat across and explained it, as an early grad student, and shocked. And I think it can really take away the curtain by involving students that way, getting them to participate on their own, learning, creating materials.

But overall, there can be no difference sometimes with publishing and open education resource, besides making it available at the end. But on the other hand, as Danielle noted, these can be living documents, and they can change and grow, and that’s where I think things get a lot different. But if one is preparing a more traditional textbook in the sense of it resembles more of a book, rather than a courseware, which might be open like a MOOC or creating videos alongside it.

Different pieces, or digital humanities kind of project, that’s when things get definitely non-traditional. But really, we can maintain a lot of our similar practices on the way we work. It’s just about that end point and what gets open. And so, open monographs which is a huge portion of what we publish may not be applicable to necessarily open education materials for an undergraduate level, but could be great for graduate students, who have less open access resources there.

And so, that’s an area I also want to see grow, and just really more open scholarship in general. But overall, I do think that there’s not as much difference, but really about who your audience is, and what one’s angle is. But definitely always increasing the amount of readers is the end result there. So, happy to discuss any questions about how that works. I think the most important concept when it comes to when I try to talk about Ubiquity is that a lot of people view open access publishing as extremely expensive.

And a lot of this comes down to the traditional article processing charge we’re seeing at $3,000 levels. And it is definitely possible to publish way less. Our average article processing charge hovers just under $600 right now, across our journals. But also, it’s entirely possible for a university to spend a reasonable amount, especially when we’re considering what it costs to subscribe to journals, to really support really strong initiatives.

Especially since so many faculty are putting open is never free, there’s still whether it’s volunteer label, right. But I think there’s a lot of ways that we can make things more equitable and affordable and take away that curtain over how open publishing works.

Zoe: Wonderful, thanks Chealsye, I love that image as well of actually making the invisible visible. It’s something we chat about a bit, and how this is an amazing opportunity we have to do that, to make publishing a really visible process in service of this goal that we all share with all kinds of different materials. Excellent, thanks so much. And now, I will pass over to David.

David: Chealsye, by the way, did you say Florida State?

Chealsye: Yeah.

David: Did I catch that correctly?

Chealsye: Yeah, I went to….

David: Okay, I’m changing my profile picture then, for you.

Chealsye: I spent one year for graduate school at Florida State.

David: Okay, I’m sorry, but that’s okay.

Chealsye: Forgive me, I’ve no allegiance to the ’noles though.

David: No, I’m only kidding. So, to augment what Danielle said, it’s interesting because whenever we get people involved in publishing here at Scribe, what I try to do is kind of scare them off a bit. I don’t know if I would actually scare them off, but I differentiate between long and short format in publishing. And by short format publishing what I mean is journals, smaller publications, which are very deadline driven and often there’s a lot of frenetic activity.

And to augment the planning replaces chaos with error the one thing is, is that in long format publishing that is books, especially textbooks, the ample amount of time and working according to a natural schedule, as opposed to an imposed one, like a semester deadline or something like that is probably the best thing I can tell you needs to be done. So, I just pasted into the chat a list.

So, whoever wrote the introduction to the session wrote: “Each of these, they broadly consist of acquisition creation that is writing and editing, review, format and release.” I just wanted to augment that a bit which is that I would call it something different. I would say they all have what we should refer to as acquisition, that is, the idea the of textbook. And they should all have a very strong book proposal with a listing of all the elements, if not as much writing material as possible.

In terms of planning, one of the things about textbooks that I’ll get to in a few seconds is the audience is different. And therefore, the process of acquisition has to be not this guy or woman knows what she’s doing, but this is what we’re trying to accomplish. And this is how we are going to accomplish it, in a book. Then, there’s always developmental editing process, which is a dialectic process that occurs between the editor or editors, the author, including peer review, because people will have comments back and forth.

And before something is cleaned up for copy editing or formatted, you really need to solidify the developmental editing process and make sure that the entire textbook is done. We’ve been writing textbooks for a very long time, and any time that someone holds off on an element, or they say, “Oh, we’ll get to that later.” That creates absolute chaos and error. (Laughs) By the way, not either.

And so, what we suggest is that you be careful in the developmental editing stage, just do what we call solidify the manuscript. Then, of course, there’s copy editing, and a big difference in textbook editing, versus other types especially monograph is that copy editors are not only looking for syntax and grammatical issues, spelling and punctuation issues, as well as consistency issues, they tend to need to be alert to usage of terminology and marking out first use of things, especially specific terms.

They also should be pedagogically aware, that is understand how things will come across, because sometimes where the order of something would read okay, for pedagogical purposes you may have to shift that around, and only a conscious editor is aware of that. Typesetting and formatting for these things should be done not according to a traditional aesthetic, or this is a nice font, or we really like this.

It really should consider the way people read, especially in both print and electronic. And be attentive to how we comprehend and how we digest information. And that things that are traditional in books like ancillaries or other kinds of components like images, often may distract. The proofreading stage is pretty much the same, except that you can’t do a cold proofread in the textbook. What you have to do is an informed proofread that is done in conjunction with the copy editor and developmental editor.

So, that the proofreader is not only reading cold, but also reading according to the pedagogic and structural needs of the textbook. Occasionally, you’ll do an index, and at that point it’s very important to engage the authors more than just normal, not to have strictly traditionally created index, but one that is pedagogically sound and fits the use and of course, print and electronic output.

And what is really important, what we like to stress is that the biggest difference between textbooks and other types of publications is the audience. Textbooks are produced by people who are subject matter experts. They’re used to a particular rhetoric, they’re used particular vocabulary, and they are fully entrenched in the subject. So, when they are writing and creating, the familiarity with the subject is assumed and the language is established.

And what is expected is that they’re augmenting an already existing body of knowledge, and things like notes and bibliographies are there to add to that augmentation. With respect to textbooks, what people are dealing with are neophytes, and they’re subject matter neophytes although that’s a redundancy in terminology. And so, what we’re trying to do is introduce people to generally accepted elements on a particular subject, thus the review, in a way that allows them to synthesize that with their already extant body of knowledge.

Thus, it needs to be more generically educational. And usually, as they’re considered to be a supplement to an instructional process, so you have to be very aware of what that instructional process is, in terms of the order of instruction, the way things are divided and arranged in a classroom setting. Or even just things like how examinations are provided, and what kind of review and use that the textbook will have.

And again, textbooks assume a lack of knowledge, so they have to be introductory and provide additional methods to synthesize information. So, things like common use of the same term as opposed to substituting synonyms, or providing summaries, or indices, or glossaries those elements are very important and should be considered in the proposal. The other thing is that we need to be attentive to fact that people learn in different ways.

And that learning method, structure, accessibility, comprehension has to be the primary focus in addition of course, to the subject being conveyed. And that key to that is not only the writing, but the editorial and design methods that are applied. And again, I’m going to repeat one thing, the worst enemy, we have a joke in sailing which is that the worst enemy to a sailor is a schedule.

And that often is the case with textbooks, you want to have a schedule where you know what the end date is, but you never want to have an unnatural one, where you end up with Danielle’s chaos and error, as well. That’s it for me.

Zoe: Wonderful, thanks, David. Appreciate your metaphor and also, I love what you say about the assumed knowledge. I think that’s a really, really important distinction. So, now having heard from our guests, thank you so much. I think they’ve raised some really, really interesting points. We’ll open it up, Karen did you want to get us started?

Karen: I would just like to add one of the reasons that we invited Dave into this session is because Scribe is a partner with the Open Textbook Network, in the publishing cooperative. And so, we’ve been working together for more than a year on developing shared processes and expertise in textbook development together. And really appreciate his background and his staff and their expert knowledge. I’m just going to put a link about Scribe in the chat.

Zoe: Great, thanks, Karen.

David: Yeah, thank you, Karen.

Zoe: If anybody has questions or would like to share their own experiences, now’s the time to chime in. I may pick on somebody if we don’t any, but I’ll give a couple of moments, if we want to gather thoughts and ask any questions. Okay, maybe people are typing away. But I may actually ask Rajiv if maybe he has some thoughts, being someone on the call we’ve just seen who produced a wonderful monograph from Ubiquity, which we read that a lot here, as well.

And is obviously also very experienced with textbooks. So, I wonder if you have any reflections on what our guests have shared so far, Rajiv? And sorry for putting you on the spot.

Rajiv: (Laughs) No, that’s totally fine. It’s an interesting space, I think, as someone working within my discipline to approach this, both from an open access publishing point of view, and then the open textbook side. And I think one the things that strikes me, as an academic, is just the very different cultures and the very different norms in those two different categories that are heavily influencing I think some of the support that’s necessary.

And often, some of the education and some of the myth busting, misconceptions that need to be dealt with out of the gate. Still, the equating of open access with predatory publishing, thanks very much Beall for that. (Laughs) A number of issues like that. But I think the opportunities on the flip side to be a bit subversive, to take advantage of what does matter, when we’re moving ahead.

So, whether it’s citation counts that matter, or something else, getting people into the gate. One of the things that I’m interested in getting, so I was really interested in David, when you were augmenting the initial lists, especially. It’s one of the things we are building over here, is with even though we have a number of open textbook authors at KPU, we’re trying to get to a point where we are requiring less of our faculty authors.

So, for example, if they want to use and learn how to use Pressbooks, embed H5P, all of that fun stuff, fantastic. But if they don’t, we want to be able to essentially meet them where they are. So, if they come to us with a long Word document saying, “Here’s my stuff, do what you need to do.” And magically convert it into an open textbook, we’re trying to get to a point where we can meet them where they are.

And so, I appreciate the advice about book proposals, and I am also looking to think about how I can calibrate that for situations where it’s not really a traditional like I approached Ubiquity with a book proposal. But it’s something less than that, and how we can meet people where they are, and still extract the bits that we need to manage the process after that, if that makes sense, at all.

David: Do you mind if I comment on that? So, when I say formal book proposal, I did not mean that an author needs to have that formal book proposal. But so, let me define book proposal the way I use it internally here at Scribe. We don’t call them proposals, we call them statements of work. And you can meet an author where she is, right? And say, “Hey look, this is what you have.”

But there has to be, before even starting the editorial and review process, I would argue that you really need to think through what the structure of the book is and create a statement of work and a book architecture. And you may after, decide well, that element is going to change because reviews suggest that we need to do something different or whatever.

But at the end of the day, if you try to just take what someone gives you, authors who are not professional publishers tend not to understand the complex elements and how everything fits together. And you end up trying to dig yourself out of a hole throughout the entire process.

Zoe: I think as well, I heard something in what Rajiv was saying, that links back to where Danielle started us off, in that I think more and more people are recognizing the amount of work that goes into this from the faculty. And how it has been on editors and authors like Danielle to figure it out and do all that work themselves. And it’s exciting to start seeing some of these models emerge that are supporting that more and taking some of that onus off of the people who are driven to do the creation in some interesting ways.

Anybody else have questions for our guests? Thanks Rajiv, he just shared the BCCampus self-publishing guide, which is a great resource for authors who are setting out into this space. Anybody feel like chiming in with their own experiences? It’s a quiet bunch today.

Karen: Well, I would be interested in our guests’ take on developmental editing. It’s something that David talked about and Danielle, in your role, you’re probably involved with. And so, maybe we can just surface a little bit more of what’s involved in developmental editing? Especially since we’re looking at some of the similarities and differences between monographs, journals and textbooks.

Just thinking about the process of putting those together, or as Rebel said in the chat, are there lessons learned, related to development editing or other things, barriers that are still around, that we’re working on? I think too, there are so many different ways to do things, depending on what your expectations are for the output, what’s going to meet the needs of your students, or your readers.

And so, we’re having a very wide-ranging conversation about a variety of outputs, I think. And a variety of audiences, and so sometimes I think connecting the threads amongst all of those can be a challenge. So, we have a question from Rebel in the chat, or my question about developmental editing, for anyone who wants to explore it.

Danielle: I would answer quickly Rebel’s question. I think one of the things that is the most time-consuming is something that Apurva and I have talked about trying to find a way to automate, and that’s following up with authors. Because the pressure’s not there, and life gets in the way, and they’re excited and then, the semester gets in the way. So, an automated I don’t know, like an automated email system that would feed from your pipeline that says, “Follow up with these authors on this date.”

Just sort of a how are things coming? And that and recruiting, were the more time-consuming things so far. Editing is well, frankly, I’m not doing much of that. Most of my editors are doing that (laughs). One thing I am a little bit concerned about, and actually David this would be— I may reach out to you at some point on this. The overarching, so where we have chapters with a single author, there is cohesion, it all flows, it makes sense.

But there are several chapters were we’re going to have eight authors for a single chapter, each writing different sections. And so, connecting those and creating a flow, that’ll really be a challenge. And I was planning to write introductions for those pieces but see, this is thing, the textbook is finally all claimed. I think we’ve been working on this for two years, and we have one chapter completely out and a section is also completely out.

And we have lots of things in the content editing process, and that seems to be fairly smooth. But yeah, so for David, the piece about trying to build consistency there with language. I really liked when you were talking about not using synonyms, using the same key terms over and over, ’cause students will easily get confused. Those are my thoughts.

David: So, quick question. What’s the level of student that you’re doing with these multiple authors?

Danielle: Freshmen.

David: Okay, so the first thing I would say, so addressing Karen’s question about developmental editing. The very first thing that I would say is so, contributed works are excellent and that’s multiple author works, are excellent if you have subject familiarity. Or if you’re trying to give students a breadth of knowledge about a very narrow topic. So, for example, like if you had a piece of literature that everyone was reading in their freshman class.

And then, you wanted to explore various ways of interpreting that literature, and you had a different chapter by each author. That could work, so long, as like you said, you had a developmental editing guide that said, “This is how we’re going to use certain terminology. If you’re going to use it distinctively, then you need to propose a definition for it that you make explicit, etc.”

But, for normal normative textbook development, many times there are numbers of contributors but our very strong recommendation on that is that somebody, we usually define that person as editor, who could be an author, or the developmental editor really needs to run through it and essentially rewrite and redevelop that material, so that it is consistent. Karen mentioned the fact that you have people with different learning styles.

Preparing materials so that they resonate with various learning styles is a different act than providing various views on a subject. The former makes things more cogent, and more coherent for people. The latter makes it less so. So, you have to be very careful about that. I don’t want to get too far into that, unless you want me to explain more fully about comprehension. But I will turn it over to others now.

Danielle: Could I just ask a quick follow up question? I’ve had concern about authors objecting to their writing being revised at that, so the process has been that we edit, and we edit, we give feedback and we get things where we want them. And then, we get them ready for typesetting and peer review. But then, it’s the question of at some point it’s going to have to be massaged so to speak, to make it flow into a single voice.

And I know that they signed an agreement that this is an open access creative commons document. So, it’s something that can be changed. I just worry about authors getting upset about that, and do you know what I’m saying? About their words being changed?

David: Yes, so was it you? I’m sorry, I think it was you in response to the question from Rebel which was the question about automating contact to the author? So, at Scribe we have an automated process for doing that. We just put stuff in our Google Calendar and each time you set out an appointment you set another one when you speak to them. It’s critical not merely just saying, “Hey, how’s it going, etc.”

Because and everyone paints a glossy picture of what’s going on and every author kind of lies when they’re responding to how’s it going. Their response is “It’s going great, everything’s on time, etc, etc.” And so, the answer to both that question and the one you just asked, from my perspective is simply this. You need to get the author on board. So, before you start the process, you should be upfront about what’s going to happen.

You should be upfront about the pedagogical requirements, about what you’re trying to accomplish, who the audience is, how you’re going to address that audience, etc. And then, explain to the author you’re a subject matter expert, that’s why we’re engaging you. But, for the purposes of comprehension, pedagogy, education, etc, these are the standards that we’re all going to agree on.

And then, every time you send something to review, or every time the author reviews, you engage the author and you say, “Hey, here’s a sample of the editorial work we’re going to do. And here’s why we did that. Is that okay?” And then, when the author is reviewing, this is why we did these things, by the way, there’s 10 chapters for you to review, when you’re done, let’s touch base in three days or four days.

When you’re done with your first one, let’s review that together. And that sounds like a lot of work, but actually it ends up saving a ton of work in textbook development. And the sample is a critical aspect. And if you start getting a prima donna, and you have these kinds of issues early on, that’s you know, if you were a commercial publisher, they would tell you to take a hike, and they would either publish it without you, or end the project.

Obviously, if it’s open, you’re not going to be doing that quite the same way. But often if you explain to them, this is going to be a better book, or something like that, that will end up helping your cause and getting them to be more compliant.

Zoe: Yeah, so Amy has chimed in in the chat, for those who can’t see it. Agreeing with that about the importance of getting a sample and said that they do it about 10% to catch things early. And that the samples they send need feedback, the images need to be open, or remixed work needs attribution. And the thing itself needs an open license on it. So, this is after training with same information, so definitely that’s a good chance to reinforce things that were already discussed as well. Great, thank you.

I think we have a question in the chat from Rebel as well, asking whether you recommend that smaller institutions work on chapters at a time, instead of trying to tackle a whole book? Does anyone want to chime in on that?

Chealsye: I think that can be a great tactic to use. I don’t think that’s limited to smaller institutions, but as somebody who has primarily worked at mid-sized state universities that didn’t really have a lot of open support yet, that is probably the easiest way to start tackling that process. It also relates to Danielle’s comment about these are living documents.

And this could be one lesson we’re taking from open access publishing and applying to open ed resources, the concept of not waiting until you have a full issue to go out but publishing things as they come. And that joke saying that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. And so, maybe this is not a book that gets done in a single year, even, it could be multiple semesters, and you can learn what works, what doesn’t work and constantly improve upon that learning experience.

So, I would say it’s a great idea if that is what works best for your context, and the context of whatever’s being written.

Zoe: Yeah, we second that. We take that approach a lot with the books we work with. And it not only makes it breaks down the process and makes it more manageable in eating the elephant as you say. I love that. And at the same time, it’s good to get the work out there, because then you can gather more feedback and people see the work that’s being done. And that’s really important particularly in open publishing.

And with open education people are constantly searching for more OER and more subjects, and so seeing what’s out there, even if it isn’t the entire resource can be really great for people to see as well. So, I see another question in the chat here from Sheryl asking whether anyone has partnered with their university press for publishing? So, I think Danielle, you said you worked with the University of North Dakota Press?

Danielle: So, the University of North Dakota did not have a press, and now, (laughs) my colleague he created the digital press at the University of North Dakota. And just sort of did it, and make it happen. Yeah, so that’s not the same I think as what Amy is talking here about Oregon State. I just wanted to answer David’s question about how you use a single chapter of a textbook. So, one of the courses that I teach, it’s sort of a history of technology class.

I say sort of, because it’s a living class, it changes. And the chapter that is published, the one that’s out for the textbook right now, that’s the foundation for a week. And it’s just a really great overview of medieval technology. So, this textbook is a response to the University of Maryland, UMUC in particular, going entirely to OERs, before there were OERs to make that a wise decision.

And so, that’s why I created this textbook. So, the way we have things right now, all classes are based on OERs. And so, they’re all a hodgepodge, and so the textbook is just slowly trying to bring this into something with a narrative, instead of just a hodgepodge of readings.

Zoe: Sorry, we’re coming up to the ten-minute mark. So, I was wondering we might come back I think, seeing some good conversation in the chat. And one thing from one of Rajiv’s comments that I think is important to highlight as well, is when you are contrasting these different kinds of publishing is that OER really has embedded in it that idea of reuse. So, you know we’re talking about these single chapters that can go out and they can be put into a collection of a bunch of different single chapters.

Whereas with other forms of academic work, the end use case is very different. I don’t think there’s the same expectation, even with open content that it will remixed to the same degree, adapted to the same degree. That the same level of engagement with changing up the text is there. And I wonder if that’s something that maybe faculty need support thinking through?

That if what they’re used to is putting something as a complete product that people are going to engage with and enjoy, versus this idea of creating building blocks that everyone can then work with. That was just a thought that came to mind, reading through, and I’m sure there are many other questions in there. So, I’ll take a look through, if anyone else wants to jump in, I’ll do some catching up.

Okay, I’m seeing lots of comments. One other thing, again, thinking about this where we started with this topic was the idea of how is understanding these different kinds of publishing useful for advocacy, for talking to people who are new to it. And one other thing again, that’s occurred to me, as people have been talking is there’s somewhat of the difference of the relationship towards publishers in the different spaces.

So, I think within open education, there’s a real recognition that the traditional publishers have been operating in shall we be diplomatic? Perhaps some not great ways, and the affordability question there is really, really a big one that comes up a lot. And I think when you compare that to say journal and monograph publishers is there’s still a lot of prestige tied up in those.

Which I don’t know has the same kind of problem within open ed. I don’t know if anybody else has given that much thought? I feel like you still go to a monograph press with, they still have a lot of respect. And maybe Chealsye, you have some experience with that as Ubiquity being a different player in that market?

Chealsye: I definitely would say that as far as monographs go, of course, there still is that prestige. And I think this largely comes down to people who are just at this point very dedicated to open and that value, at a greater level than what that prestige means to them. Now, this might be a little bit different if someone’s working in an open context. And they’re supposed to be walking that walk.

It’s a little bit easier to justify this, if we’re considered an open leader, or someone whose job it is to work in the space because it helps execute your job responsibilities to publish that way. But I think in general, trying to get some faculty to make that leap when they still are, that prestige is a currency in itself. But some who are I think at that point, where they’re valuing open most that’s what really makes that leap happen.

I haven’t yet experienced that prestige being tied as much to general open ed materials. Of course, these are more like textbooks and monographs type styles that are a little bit more traditional but could be open. Danielle might have more thoughts and any other faculty members on the call, ’cause I’ve always had the great privilege of open being my job, as a foremost. So, it’s harder for me to argue that others who that is not their defining role gets to—it’s so much easier to be able to be committed, because that’s the role.

Zoe: Absolutely, we find the same. And I wonder if maybe OER is a way for people to make that leap into other kinds of open publishing. So, if faculty are kind of engaged and really see the value of it, in the educational space, where as I say, I think it’s just an easier sell in some ways. I’m not saying that it’s easy, all of you where it’s your job (laughs) I’m not saying it’s easy. But that’s a path into that kind of publishing as well.

Chealsye: Yeah, I find it much easier in my experience as a librarian to get a faculty member to use open materials, the argument of well, your students, these are expensive, here’s all these free examples. I had, for example, an art history professor, who transformed from $120 textbook to all open materials, but refused to publish open access and was only one or two faculty members that railed against an open access archiving policy.

So, sometimes they don’t overlap, but it could be a potential way to get them really loving something. So, open ed could be the gateway to the rest of also Open, I think.

Zoe: Now, I’ll just pick up on a couple of things happening in the chat. So, David made the argument that I think referring back to when we were talking about single chapters that those are resources, not a textbook. And those do take a different approach. And then, Amy followed up, saying a lot of the OER that are published as textbooks wind up not being the type of textbook of record that you publish, but rather very unique approach that the next person might need to modify quite a bit to find usable.

Yeah, that is a really great distinction. And then, I think we have a question from Rajiv, as well, which I think maybe our last one, looking at time. So, Rajiv has said, “I’m really interested in the continuous improvement of OER, like open textbooks, especially by drawing on the experiences and ideas of faculty adopters. One tool we’re looking at for this is the use of annotation tools, like Hypothesis, to flag areas that need updating revision.

And then, drawing on this pool of comments for updates. Are there other practices that people are using for this post-publication?” And David, I’m not sure if maybe this has been part of your process, or if there are others who want to jump in on that?

David: Well, if you don’t mind, I will jump in really quickly. We don’t have enough time for the longer conversation about the failure of what I use in scare quotes “traditional textbook development”, because obviously we wouldn’t all be here if they hadn’t failed. And there needs to be a new model for both producing textbooks as well as for the structure of textbooks, given modern learning methodology and teaching methodologies.

But I think we need to differentiate between something that is dynamic that is part of a learning community, and therefore, is part of a dialectic process, from something that is incomplete and only partial. And I think that when I go about crafting a course, I’m not thinking from week to week, I’m thinking about how each week fits into an entire semester. What my learning objectives are, how I’m structuring it, what components I’m covering, how I’m covering them, what supplemental materials I’m offering for those things, etc, etc.

And I develop a course over a number of years, each time it’s taught it changes but the framework is there from the first time it’s been taught. And so, we definitely need a new model, we need to consider all these quote unquote ancillaries that are placed in textbooks, and examine whether they’re useful and whether they have purpose. But we can’t do that in my opinion, we can’t do that in a sort of broken up, partial way.

Karen: And to Rajiv’s question about gathering feedback, Corinne mentioned in the chat at Virginia Tech that they had a beta edition of electromagnetics textbook and they also I know Corinne, maybe, well, I guess perhaps we are running short of time. But, I put a link in there to the business fundamentals textbook. I know that they’ve really been looking at this same question, Rajiv, in terms of how to collect information.

I really like the Hypothesis idea, going line by line. And I am interested, too in a case study of how maybe that has been leveraged from first edition to a second edition. So, great question. Okay, with two minutes left, perhaps it’s time to start wrapping up. What do you think, Zoe?

Zoe: I think so. All right. So, thank you so much everyone for being here, and in particular to our guests. It was wonderful to hear from all of you, and I think we got some great perspectives there. Any final words from our speakers?

David: No, thank you all very much for listening and participating.

Zoe: Excellent, okay and thank you to everyone sharing their comments in the chat as well. So, as always, we’ll have this recording available in a few days, as well as the transcript. And very much looking forward to seeing you all next time.

Karen: Yes, thank you. See you soon.

Zoe: Thanks everyone.

End of audio.

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