Author Guide Template

This template may be used as you’re recruiting and onboarding authors on your project. Find an editable version here.

 

Author Guide: [Project Title]

Lead editor(s)/author(s): [Name(s)]

[Link to Project Homepage]

Welcome/Introduction

This section can be adapted from the Project Overview and should link to that document and/or the Project Homepage.

Help Needed

Explain the specific author contribution needed (e.g. 1000 word sections, 2000-3000 word chapters, groups of 6 to collaborate on an 8000 word chapter etc.). List or link to the book outline, so contributors can identify which sections they may like to contribute to.

Author Commitments

Introduce the existing authors (if any) and state the expected qualifications & expertise of any contributing authors (e.g. doctoral candidate (ABD) or higher in X field).

Licensing

This can also be adapted from Project Overview. It should note that all authors submitting content agree to the CC-BY license and that any non-CC-BY content will only be included in special circumstances (if at all).

Project Participation

If you ask that authors participate in monthly calls, help to recruit other contributors, act as peer reviewers etc., you can indicate that here.

Author Code

You may also want to include an “Author Code”, e.g.:

Authors should ensure their contributions are free of libel, plagiarism, copyright violations, or factual errors.

Content Guidelines

Structure

Explain the structure of each section/chapter (e.g. each chapter comprises a background/theory chapter, a case study and a student workbook section). Give specific word counts and detail of what a contributor is expected to submit, if the content will be developed in phases.

Audience & Tone

Identify your audience and offer some guidance on the tone you’re looking for in the content (e.g. personable, formal, avoid jargon, reading level etc.).

Citations, Styles & Formatting

Below is some recommended text for this section:

Citations should follow the [MLA/APA/Chicago etc.] style. References to historical figures should include the dates of birth and death in parentheses, such as: Karl Marx (1813-1883). The text as a whole will be edited in accordance with the [Chicago Manual of Style].

Please use minimal formatting in your submission as formatting will be handled using Pressbooks (an open source book production software). Avoid using bold/italics/underlining to indicate the hierarchy of sections within the content and instead use the heading styles on the toolbar. You can create any lists and tables using the styles menu, but if any content should be in blockquotes, textboxes or another specific format, please indicate this in a comment.

Media (Images, Video, Audio etc.)

Note any requested or required media that the author should supply, and the preferred formats (if any). You can also offer sources where authors may find appropriately licensed content, e.g.:

Where appropriate, you can choose to include images, video or sound clips along with the written text. Please ensure that these elements are in the public domain or carry a CC-BY, CC-BY-SA or a CC0 license, and that you clearly indicate and link to the source in your submission.

The following are useful sources of public domain and CC-BY licensed multimedia content:

Note that all images should be given captions and descriptive alternative text, where appropriate. See the Accessibility section below for more.

Glossary

If applicable, indicate to authors how to highlight and define glossary terms. You may want to avoid using styles like italics/bold/underline to display glossary terms in-text, as this may not be distinguishable enough from the main text. We recommend asking authors to highlight glossary terms in a bright colour so they are clearly identifiable.

Accessibility

Below is some recommended text for this section:

Authors are asked to ensure that their sections fulfill accessibility best practices. Building in certain key elements from the beginning will make a big difference in ensuring the text is accessible to all students who will use it in their courses. The following are the main areas to keep in mind — follow the links to read more.

Organization of content/Headings — Many students need clear cues to navigate content, so keeping the organisation and hierarchy consistent are important. Use heading styles from the style menu rather than bold, italic or different font sizes to indicate the start of a new section. This helps to structure the content in a logical way for all students, including those using screen readers.

Lists — Make sure you use the standardized numbered and bulleted lists found on the style menu, rather than plain text. E.g.:

  1. Numbered
  2. List
  • Bulleted
  • List

Images & colour — Include a text description for any functional images that communicate important information. This will likely be more in depth than an image caption, and should contain enough information that a student can understand the concept depicted without seeing the image. (Note: this isn’t required for decorative images!). You should also avoid using colour as the only means of communicating information (e.g. on a graph).

Tables — Make sure you avoid inserting images of tables, and instead enter the content as an editable table. This ensures that it will be accessible for students using screen readers.

Multimedia — If you’re including video or audio content, it should ideally have captions or a transcript available. If this is not available for a resource in your section, please flag this in your submission for the editing team to address.

The information above is drawn from the BCcampus Open Textbook Accessibility Toolkit. Please read through the rest of the text for more on accessibility best practices.

If you have any questions or require support in meeting these standards, please contact [project leads and/or Rebus project manager].

Submission Information

Due Dates

Indicate either a specific due date for content submission (if it will be the same for all contributors), or note that this will be arranged between the editors and authors and give an estimated timeframe (e.g. 6 weeks). A target date for having all content submitted may also be helpful, and links to any project tracking spreadsheets should be provided here.

How to Submit

Instruct contributors on how they should submit their sections once completed. This should include format (generally Word or Google Doc), method (email attachment, add to shared Google Drive etc.), contact person and indication that they will be notified when the submission has been received.

Editing & Review

This section should give a broad outline of the editing & review process a contributor’s section will go through once it has been received. It doesn’t need to be very detailed, but should give the author an idea of what to expect (e.g. the lead editor will leave comments for the author to address, then the content will go through an anonymous peer review process). We also encourage project leads to involve authors in deciding what the editing and review process will look like, which can be indicated in this section.

Recognition for Contributors

If a stipend or other formal recognition is available, mention that here. If this isn’t available for your project, we recommend adding some kind of note to indicate how contributors will be recognised, e.g.:

This project couldn’t happen without your participation. All contributing authors will be credited prominently in their chapter, the book and promotional materials. All editors, reviewers and other contributors will also be credited.

Questions? Want to Learn More?

This should offer a clear avenue for anyone with questions to connect with the project leads (if they’re interested, we want to smooth the way for them to get involved!). This can be a link to a forum thread and/or a personal email, as appropriate. You can also link to the project homepage.

Spread the word!

Encourage anyone interested in the project to share it within their networks and encourage colleagues who might be a good fit to sign up!

Find an editable version of this template here.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Author Guide Template by Apurva Ashok and Zoe Wake Hyde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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