Authorship and Incentives

Reading through posts on “Authorship” this week had me questioning authorship and incentives, which, in turn, made me think of Wikisource. As we have already discussed, Wikisource encourages a mentality that focuses on 1) the non-permanency of texts 2) the ability for various users to edit/effect/change in multiple ways a certain text and 3) producing texts collectively for non-monetary purposes. In terms of authorship, then, I find Wikisource particularly interesting because it contradicts our assumption that there needs to be either a monetary incentive or at the very least a bullet on our CV to perpetuate creativity and intellectual thought and energy.

This, I think, creates a major (and interesting) distinction between Fitzpatrick’s discussion on blogging (specifically her own blogging) and the efforts by users on platforms like Wikisource. While Fitzpatrick’s own blogging sparked enough interest and commentary that it eventually lead to a book publication, I think I’m correct in assuming that Wikisource users will never have this option. While contributing on Wikisource may be valuable, and perhaps enhance certain aspects of a larger project, using Wikisource itself never leads to personal exposure, dissertation, or a book deal, like the blogger is (arguably) dreaming of.

I think Julie made some really interesting points in her post this week, and I’m particularly drawn to her discussion on blogger Rohan Maitzen. Blogging, as Maitzen is advocating, needs to be conceptualized as a valuable and credible tool within academia, and understood as crucial to the process of creating meaningful work.  But this leaves me with the question: If we were able to gain credibility without a publication, would this limit the incentive to get published? To return to my discussion above, I think the amount of users on Wikisource would suggest that the incentive for getting published is minimal compared to the amount of work scholars are willing to do just for the sake of sharing knowledge, and with little to no recognition.

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2 Responses to Authorship and Incentives

  1. olivia.harris says:

    I am really interested in the idea that increasing credibility is an incentive for publication. It is true that published academics are more well respected as their list of publications increases, but it is vital to remember that the content of a piece of writing is more important than where one can read it.
    This post sheds some much needed light on the assumption that personal gain motivates most writers to get published. For contributors to Wikisource the spread of information to a wide audience with open accessibility to content seems to be a more relevant issue in the digital age. Wikisource, and bloggers like Rohan Maitzen, are advocating for a wider definition of what writing is credible in the academic field, opening up the potential for access to material that can be deemed “credible”. I agree that it is time we expanded out minds to the potential for different academic venues of expression, but I will admit that I do not know how we can monitor and police alternate academic writing to differentiate between the credible and non-credible blog posts, webpages, Wikisource entries, etc. Does anyone have any ideas?

    • margaret.milde says:

      I have the same question as Olivia. How do we police credibility, and do we need to? Of course, their are miscreants who intentionally post false, and often hilarious, information on the internet. For instance, look at Urban Dictionary. Type in your own name and just see what comes up. The results will make you cringe. Of course, Urban Dictionary is not even close to scholarly, but it is one of the many sources that the internet offers. I think something like Google Scholar is excellent– I just wish that it could be expanded to include non-peer reviewed articles for the sake of broadening academic parametres.

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