Developing meaningful co-authorship
Humanities disciplines generally value single-authored articles and monographs most. Team-based or multi-authored projects are relatively rare, though they are becoming more common thanks to the digital humanities. However, collaborative, mutually beneficial research design and methods are at the heart of publicly engaged work. As a result, scholars doing this work necessarily are rethinking what authorship looks like and what it means. Who gets to decide what is written and how? Whose voice(s) tell the story or stories of this publicly engaged work? Can a single publication incorporate all the project’s contributors, or what kinds of publications will give all project partners appropriate platforms? These questions need to be integral to the process of deciding how and when to publish.
Authorship also entails the ownership of the work produced. Partners involved in publishing out of a publicly engaged project must consider carefully who “owns” the work and who has the authority to license it to publishers, if that route to publication is chosen. If the work is registered for copyright, an author or authors must be identified. If the partners choose a Creative Commons license, they must consider how they wish to enable or limit others’ use or reuse of their work. And scholars must consider if they will be able to claim originality and copyright in scholarly work on the same project if other publications have preceded theirs. Some publishers may decline to take on a manuscript if its substance has already appeared elsewhere, especially under someone else’s byline.
Jenny Brier and Matt Wizinsky speak in more detail about the complexities of “ownership” and meaningful co-authorship in the video below.