Peersourcing: Just a Word We Made Up, or the Secret to Better Textbooks?
October 22, 2010
This month, we’re embarking on a proof-of-concept project to pave the way for the crowdsourced editorial model we’ll employ starting in 2011. If everything goes as planned, we won’t just be taking good manuscripts and making them better…we’ll be revolutionizing a key part of the textbook development process.
The process, which we’ve labeled “peersourcing,” involves gathering real-time manuscript feedback in the form of edits, comments, and contributions from our community. Reviewers will do that using purpose-built, web-based tools. It’s not a wiki: authors retain control over what goes into their books. Nor is it traditional crowdsourcing: we’re seeking the wisdom of established, passionate, and verified educators and peer reviewers. That wisdom will be incorporated into manuscripts under the guidance of a professional editor, using a rigorous editorial process.
Our primary objectives are:
- To make the manuscript development process collaborative by directly incorporating the feedback of potential adopters of the textbook
- To maintain the focus on quality control and academic rigor of the traditional editorial process, but make it faster, more flexible, and less costly
- To offer our authors a level of control over the editorial direction of their books that they can’t get anywhere else
The peersourced feedback loop represents a big step towards a whole new way of building textbooks.
Progress to Date
For our first peersourcing projects, we’ve partnered with the authors of a couple of excellent open books in Linear Algebra and Abnormal Psychology. Both titles have a solid provenance and have been used in real classrooms, “on the ground,” for a number of years. With significant involvement from reviewers, the authors, and an editor, we will produce new peersourced revisions of these books over the next couple of months. (Per our standard author-centric focus, the authors will retain their rights to the titles.)
Want to get involved?
Sounds interesting, right? We plan to add titles on a rolling basis, so if you’d like to be a part of the project, either by submitting a manuscript for consideration or serving as a reviewer, contact me here. If you know someone who would be interested, please put them in touch!
I’ll provide updates on our progress as we go along, so check back regularly.
What do you think about the name “peersourcing”? Love it? Hate it? Did we do a good job explaining what we’re up to? Please comment below.