on August 22, 2012 by Phillip Lord in All, Development, kblog-metadata, Comments (0)

Why multiple authors?

In this article, we consider the reason why support for multiple authors is necessary for academic writing, and the implications this has for how we provide this support (http://process.knowledgeblog.org/257). In general, in academic writing most articles are authored by more than one person. Providing appropriate credit to all authors is critical for our careers aside from anything else, so this issue is very important. Maintaining a clear authorship was one of our original justifications for using blog technology rather than wiki’s (http://ontogenesis.knowledgeblog.org/691). We can however make a split between two authorship roles (http://ontogenesis.knowledgeblog.org/1062); first as a person who contributes to the writing of an article, and second as a person who contributes to the work that an article describes.

Our initial attempts to support multiple authorship used the co-authors-plus plugin. This is a good tool and works well. We found it problematic; we needed to add user accounts for many people who, while they may have contributed to work that was being published, did not contribute directly to the writing of the article, and had no need to login to WordPress. Managing multiple accounts is time-consuming and comes with a security risk. This reached its most extreme with our attempts to use a kblog as a grey literature server for bio-ontologies (http://bio-ontologies.knowledgeblog.org/bio-ontologies-gray-literature). In the first year, the articles had around 100 authors for 22 articles; only one article was single author. All articles were published by kblog project members (myself, and Simon Cockell), none of who were authors.

More over, feedback from our very first testing of the kblog environment (http://ontogenesis.knowledgeblog.org/647) told us that few scientists wished to use WordPress to edit. We have always suggested that authors should use their own, existing tool chain (http://process.knowledgeblog.org/3). Where multiple authors wished to collaborate they can do so within their existing collaboration workflow (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2054).

This is important because it means that we do not need WordPress to provide support for collaborative editing; we simply need to support the addition of multiple author metadata to posts. These authors may be the same as or different from people with editing rights, or who were actually involved in posting articles.


Author

Phillip Lord
School of Computing Science
Newcastle University

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