Back in 2017, we wrote a blog post on fluid publication. This explained the development of a book by the author together with the readership, reusing techniques well-known from software development.
The author 1) starts with a draft version, collects feedback from colleagues, and then the stages of 2) (open) review, 3) acceptance, 4) community proofreading and finally 5) publication of the first edition follow. A history of the different versions is kept on GitHub. GitHub also provides functionalities to manage lists of open issues which still have to be addressed before the next stage can be initiated.
As detailed in various posts on this blog, we use PaperHive for community proofreading. Today, we can showcase docLoop, which allows us to transform the community comments into todo lists on GitHub, closing the loop from author to reader and back from the reader to the author.
Let’s look at an example, Voice at the interfaces: The syntax, semantics, and morphology of the Hebrew verb by Itamar Kastner. We can see the progress of this book on its GitHub page. The book was started in June 2018 and finalised in June 2020. Between the setup of the project and the publication, we count 259 different versions. Next to the author itamarkast, who provided 227 improved versions, kopeckyf and Glottotopia from the LangSci team provided 24 and 3 commits, respectively.
Jeroen, you started community proofreading in June 2017 and have participated in 52 published books up to now. You are #1 in the LangSci Hall of Fame.
What were your motivations to sign up as a community proofreader? How did you hear about this possibility?
I think I saw a book in the series and browsed the website–partly out of linguistic interest, and partly as a supporter of open access. I have been editing books and journals for many years, so I like this kind of activity and have gotten a bit of an eye for things that may go wrong in linguistic texts. It’s very nice if you can, once in a while, prevent an author from making a mistake where they forgot a not (or a crucial comma, haha) – it’s nice to make things better, even if it’s only a little.
How do you like the process so far? What have your experiences been?
I like the process. “Crowd-reading” like this is a good idea. Sometimes I read comments by other proofreaders, and note that they do things differently than me. Apparently that’s not a problem, and further streamlining is probably neither necessary nor really warranted (maybe references could still be automatically improved, or American vs British vs Australian English spelling). It’s up to the author, of course, to see what they do with the corrections and comments, and it’s nice to think that a text could still be further improved at some point in the future. Perhaps we can have an evaluation some time.
Could you tell us how you go about a new chapter when you receive it?
I dive right in. I always read the acknowledgements (who doesn’t?), but then I turn to the assigned chapter, start at page 1 and don’t usually stop until I’m at the end. Because of the time difference I often read early in the morning, when I can work for a few hours at a stretch.
Community Proofreading am Beispiel Language Science Press: „Gratis-Korrekturlesen“ oder auch inhaltlich anreichernd?
[Community proofreading as used by Language Science Press: Only cost-free copy-editing, or also additional improvement of content?]
This study evaluates in how far the way we integrate the community in the proofreading of our books via PaperHive can be seen as a type of (content) open review, and what types of community comments we find (typos, wording, specialist suggestions). We have described our approach to community proofreading in a couple of blog posts:
This thesis by Lole Westedt puts our efforts in a broader context and finds that, actually, what we call “Community Proofreading” meets 6 out of 7 criteria of Ross-Hellauer‘s list of Open Review dimensions:
Open identities: Authors and reviewers are aware of each other’s identity
Open reports: Review reports are published alongside the relevant article.
Open participation: The wider community are able to contribute to the review process.
Open interaction: Direct reciprocal discussion between author(s) and reviewers, and/or between reviewers, is allowed and encouraged.
Open pre-review manuscripts: Manuscripts are made immediately available (e.g., via preprint servers like arXiv) in advance of any formal peer review procedures.
Open final-version commenting: Review or commenting on final “version of record” publications.
Open platforms: Review is de-coupled from publishing in that it is facilitated by a different organizational entity than the venue of publication.
Westedt then had a look at a sample of 10 books, from which she selected 1 chapter each and analysed the comments she found.
As of today, we have published 11 edited volumes. We have found that edited volumes demand much more work from all sides, and that the procedure for publishing edited volumes with Languages Science Press seems to cause more astonishment than the process for monographs. In this blog post, I will describe some differences in the setup between monographs and edited volumes and try to explicate in more detail what volume editors can expect. Remember that, technically, submissions have to be in LaTeX. We will offer assistance to the best of our capacities if you have chapters submitted in Word, but this depends on our current work load.
Difference between monographs and edited volumes
Monograph authors directly benefit from adherence to the guidelines. They are in direct contact with the coordinator and generally understand how particular technical subtleties impact their book when explained. Their efforts will directly translate into an improvement of a work which is 100% theirs, so normally, they are eager to comply. Furthermore, they are usually responsible for any delays themselves and hence try to minimise them. Continue reading →
Traditionally, once a book was published, there was little you could do to change its content afterwards. Works in linguistics which see a second edition are few and far between. The most you could hope for is a sheet of errata distributed with the book itself. One consequence of this was, incidentally, that many works were withheld for a long time to make sure they were absolutely perfect before releasing them to the printer’s, which would make the content immutable.
Errata. CC-BY-SA Sage Ross.
With electronic publication, things are different. The publication of a new version is comparatively cheap. In this blogpost, I will detail the lifecycle of a document at Language Science Press and show how we work together with PaperHive to get the document from the initial stage to the first (and subsequent) editions. At the end, I will put this approach into a wider perspective on academic publishing.
As of now, there have been 311 expressions of interest to publish with Language Science Press. In the beginning, the time between one book publication and the next was rather long, but now we have a number of parallel projects which requires some scheduling.
An important part of our workflow is community proofreading. We send out chapters of to-be-published books to community members interested in the topic. These community members then proof the chapter and return the corrections. Their contributions are listed in our Hall of Fame.
The proofreading phase is currently 4 weeks. But our output will be more than 1 book/month in the very near future. This means that we will have several books in proofreading at the same time. The following is a list of upcoming projects and the projected order in which they will reach proofreading. The order is basically first-come first-serve, i.e. when a books is ready, we send it out for proofreading. We might deviate from that in order to ensure a mix of books. For instance, we currently have 4 Africanist books. We add some other books in between to balance the topics.
The current queue is given below. Time between one book and the next should be two weeks: