How to write an article for a Knowledge Blog

This article discusses how to use the features of wordpress to write an article for a Knowledge Blog. It is aimed at existing authors and those with a basic knowledge of blogging. It does not describe how to use specific tools (such as Word, OpenOffice or latex) for authoring.


Author

Phillip Lord
School of Computing Science
Newcastle University
United Kingdom
NE3 4PH

phillip.lord@newcastle.ac.uk


Do’s and Don’ts

For fuller explanation please read the rest of this article.


Writing the Article

There are many tools that can be used for authoring articles for a Knowledge Blog. This article does not describe specifically how to use any of these tools, as these will be dealt with in other articles. There are a number of general rules to bear in mind though.

WordPress is not an authoring environment

http://www.knowledgeblog.org is hosted using WordPress. It’s a very good tool in many ways, but it was intended for and is most suited for use as a publishing tool; most blogs are written by single authors who wish to place their thoughts on the web either for authors or themselves to be able to read. It is not an authoring tool, however. It does not provide a particularly rich environment for editing, and particularly not for collaborative editing. Most people get tired of the wordpress authoring tool very quickly, as it’s just not suited for serious scientific authoring. Nor does it provide good facilities for collaborative editing; normally, only one person can see a draft post, so you cannot pass this around between several authors.

The general advice, here, then is that it is better to write your article with some other authoring environment, and use WordPress simply as a publishing environment. This is how I have written this article for instance. Currently, we have had articles on Knowledge Blog written using Word, OpenOffice, Latex, Google Docs and asciidoc, as well as some written using the WordPress editor.

While this aspect of WordPress seems to be a considerable disadvantage over, for example, a Wiki, it does mean that authors can choose to use whatever authoring tool they are happy with, so long as the tools exist to take that format and publish it in a blog. Blogging is mainstream enough that, in many cases, they do.

Organising your article

In general, articles are written very much like normal. You can use sections, abstracts and so on, as you choose. However, there are a few minor differences.

First, blogs already support the idea of a title. You need to use this, rather than placing the title in the body of text. Although it is dependant on the theme, in general, putting the title into the body will result in it appearing twice. Try not to make the title enormously long, as it will appear in the window frame of the browser. 70 characters should be enough. Depending on the technique you use, your authoring environment may take care of this.

Second, start you article with a short, one or two line sentence that covers the contents of the article. Essentially, this is equivalent to the first line of an abstract, or the long titles that some parts of science use. In long lists of articles this may be all that appears, so it needs to give the flavour of the article. Do not mark the first section “Abstract” and do not put the author names first, as they will both get in the way.

Third, you should put your author names, as normal after this. The authors whose account is used to publish/submit the article fulfils the same function as the corresponding author.

Finally, do be aware of what the Knowledge Blog will do for you and you do not need to replicate. At the time of writing, for example, Knowledge Blog already supports automatic table of contents which is formed from the header tags of your article. So, it makes no real sense to duplicate this with your own table of contents. Currently, this is about the limit of Knowledge Blog‘s capability, but other similar tools are planned.


Publishing Your Article

This is, in general, a very simple process. Hopefully, your authoring tool should do most of the work for you. Once you have completed this, please do check that this has worked fully. Knowledge Blog is intended as a publishing environment; while this is not the case at the moment, the intention is that it will become non-repudiable; statements once made will not un-makeable. If you wish to do this in private, publish your article as draft in the first instance. WordPress stores all versions of your article; it is likely that, in the future, all versions after the article has been published (i.e. not marked as draft) will be visible to readers.


Categorising Your Article

Knowledge Blog allows “categories” for articles. In general, the categories will be defined by the editors of the particular Knowledge Blog in question, which includes a default.

Once you have checked your article, please categorise it as “Under-Review”. You may also categorise is using other categories as the Knowledge Blog supports — for example, this article on publication was categorised as “under-review” and “howto”. Categories are used to control the steps through the review process. Once you article has been peer-reviewed, fulfiling the requirements of the particular knowledge blog, then it will recategorised as “Reviewed”.


Tagging Your Article

Tags are keywords, also known as folksonomies. You should attach a number of tags to your article relating to the content. There can be any number of tags, but 4 or 5 is generally enough. Try and use somes words which are general and some which are specific. Please feel free to reuse words that have already been used as tags, but also to use words which have not been used as tags.

Please do not tag your article with the author names — the problem here is that names tend to overwhelm the subject based tags. At the current time, we do not have explicit support for navigating to articles by specific authors, but intend to add this.


Responding to Reviews

Responding to authors is pretty much the same as normal. You can change the article to the point that it satisfies the reviewers or the editor of the Knowledge Blog. When you have finished, the article can be considered complete. At this point, it should be reclassified as “Reviewed”.


After Review

The intention of the Knowledge Blog is that once an article has been published, it should remain as part of the scientific record. With the software as it stands, it is not possible to enforce this; however, you should not edit your article once it has been published, except for small alterations that do not change the meaning of the document. So spelling corrections would be reasonable, as would correcting broken links. Adding new paragraphs or removing content would not be. In general, if you wish to revise your article, it will need to be republished.

We hope to address this issue more fully in the future. As an example, at this point, this article will be outdated and a new article will be published, sharing most of the same content.


Conclusion

In general, the process of publishing on Knowledge Blog should be simple and straightforward; the intention is that the publication process should take a small percentage of the time required to produce the article. This article describes a simple set of rules which should ensure that this is the case.