Group paper writing

So… I’ve been working on a paper with what feels like a zillion authors. Thankfully, the number who are actually editing the paper is much less than the number of people who are authors on the paper. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that more than two editors on a single paper makes for a lot of extra work.

With two authors/editors, you pass the paper back and forth, seeing the changes after each addition. With more than authors, you end up seeing the paper after it has gone through usually multiple revisions. I, personally, find this difficult for a few reasons:

  • Every author has their own writing style. Now, instead of trying to merge two, you’re merging too many. 
  • Writing paper always brings out different views on how information should be laid out and/or explained. With two people, it’s relatively easy to come to a compromise. With more than that, it can be difficult for all voices to be heard equally.
  • As with normal group work, not everyone is willing to pull their own weight.
  • Some people are just terrible writers. It can be that there’s no flow to what they’re writing, or that their spelling/grammar is terrible, or that most of their writing just doesn’t make sense. Which adds more work to everyone else.

Most of the writing I’ve done, has thankfully been down between two people. And I’m usually the primary writer (as it’s on my work). I’ve found this great. As my supervisor is generally the only other person on my writing, this process has allowed me to learn a lot about my writing style. I need to work on sounding more formal, my explanations, and determining exactly which details are essential to include and which are just nice to have.

This current paper has been a bit more of a headache. But, it’s also been a chance to practice just walking away from discussions when you know its pointless. And asserting myself to make sure that I wasn’t shouldering more work than reasonable.

However, I’m so glad it’s done for now. Of course, next up is making a poster about it. Sigh…



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