Tools for complex collaborations

collaboration on computersWhen we collaborate on a writing or editing project with one or two people, we can get away with sharing documents as email attachments. In more complex projects, we might have multiple partners, and each partner could have a significant amount of research and/or writing to contribute. Collaborative partners might have their own teams or student assistants who contribute to the effort. Sharing attachments is no longer the best strategy for exchanging work in progress, so what should we do?

This dilemma is the focus of my questions to Cole Keirsey, who joined me for a presentation, “Managing to Collaborate: Matching Document Management Tools to Your Writing Project,” at the recent TAA conference. As a technical writer for a global company, he used strategies that academic writers can adopt. He answered my questions about document sharing and version control here, and in next month’s post we will look at two other topics from that presentation: distribution and reuse, and deep linking. [Read more…]

Tips on software for writers

Q: “I’d appreciate any advice about what kind of writing software is available (for academic social sciences). I use WordPerfect with EndNote, but need to upgrade, and haven’t looked at other programs in several years. Has EndNote gotten any easier to use? Is Word avoidable? Is there any flexible and useful outlining software?”

A: Richard Hull, TAA Executive Director:

“I put Stephen’s question to a professional book producer and got the following answer:

‘This person sounds strongly biased against Word, which is typical of many people who learned their craft on Word Perfect. For them, learning Word is annoying; like learning a second language that shares so many features of the mother tongue, they frequently get confused and prefer their familiar language. As annoying and rigid as I find them, I know that I am equally biased toward Word for equally annoying reasons (in fact, the same reasons!).

[Read more…]