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Collaborative writing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The terms collaborative writing and peer collaboration refer to projects where written works are created by multiple people together (collaboratively) rather than individually. Some projects are overseen by an editor or editorial team, but many grow without any top-down oversight.


The following list gives one possible overview of the evolution of computer-based collaborative writing (opinions may vary as to the order, number, and details of the steps).

  1. File exchange via removable media (sneakernet) or email
  2. File exchange via shared file server
  3. Revision control software providing check-in/out
    • List of revision control software
  4. Enterprise information portal, Content management system
    • SharePoint
  5. Wikis
  6. Xcellery

Practical approaches

In a true collaborative environment, each contributor has an almost equal ability to add, edit, and remove text. The writing process becomes a recursive task, where each change prompts others to make more changes. It is easier to do if the group has a specific end goal in mind, and harder if a goal is absent or vague.

A very good method of discussion and communication is essential, especially if disagreements arise.

Successful collaboration occurs when each participate [or stakeholder] is able to make a unique contribution toward achieving a common vision or goal statement. Supporting this common goal are objectives that have been generated by each of the participants. It is important for each participate to "feel" as though he or she has a significant contribution to make to the acheivement of goals. It is also important that each participant be held accountable for contributing to the writing project. [Brown, C. A., 2007, East Carolina University]


Collaborative writing projects include:

  • Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  • Everything2
  • H2G2
  • International Writing Exchange
  • Ilf and Petrov
  • Kozma Prutkov
  • Linux documentation project
  • New Worlds Project
  • Nicolas Bourbaki
  • Panhistoria
  • Trillium Report
  • Wikipedia and many other wikis

Some collaborative writing projects are also open content.

"Collaborative writing is working in a group as small as two or as large as one can imagine to create a document. The group members can work in a synchronous environment (face to face, at the same computer, in the same classroom) or asynchronous (discussion board, email, letters). The group collectively negotiates, coordinates, researches and monitors their writing process to accomplish their task. Often group members will be assigned roles such as monitor, consultant, editor, reporter and leader to streamline the process. They will often follow a schedule of brainstorming, outlining, drafting, reviewing, revising and copy editing to produce the document. This coordinated consensus will produce many benefits. Maximum input, increased learning, varied points of view and fraternization are benefits of this style of work. It is believed this method of writing will produce a higher quality of work as opposed to a single writer/single reviewer method. Collaborative writing is utilized by members of academia, business and government."[citation needed] - Lowry Curtis Lowry, 2004

Similar and related concepts

  • coauthoring
  • collaborative authoring
  • Collaborative editing
  • Collaborative fiction
  • Collaborative learning
  • cooperative writing
  • group writing
  • joint authoring
  • Massively distributed collaboration
  • shared document collaboration
  • team writing

External links

  • Stanford - Collaborative Writing and Research in Higher Education
  • Research papers about the collaborative writing process:
    • Analysing interactions during collaborative writing with the computer: an innovative methodology
    • SAC98 - Ceilidh: Collaborative Writing on the Web
    • Building a Taxonomy and Nomenclature of Collaborative Writing to Improve Interdisciplinary Research and Practice]
    • Legal Research 2.0: the Power of a Million Attorneys
  • - a collaborative writing project focusing on collaboration.
  • Collaboration Made Simple with Bracket Notation
  • ublot - A website dedicated to facilitating collaboration of user submitted "blots" which make up a story.
  • - Online collaboration tool for creating and publishing content.
  • - Online collaborative novel written by authors from around the world.
  • - Member-generated news and education community for forex traders.
  • - Collaborative writing site with competitions and guaranteed publication.
  • The Wiki Legal Journal, a site set up by members of the Wake Forest Law Review where authors can submit papers for critique in a wiki environment.
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