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Collaborative Authorship, Really?

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Academia wants individuals to take very clear credit for work that is not clearly one's own. Our collaborations in the Feminist Research Collective involve us in thinking together, writing together, imagining, together, disagreeing together, struggling together. Universities, on the one hand, encourage collaborations while on the other hand, wanting those collaborations to be easily delineated on individualistic terms. About a year ago, we were having a discussion about authorship order. Our general process is for people to claim fists to five involvement in the thinking/writing/doing of scholarly work - 5 being heavily involved and 0 (fists) being uninvolved. Everybody claims their own level of investment. Then work out author order from there, conversing as needed when differences emerge. During such a conversation last year, we decided that we wanted to move toward publishing something just using the name The Feminist Research Collective in the tradition of the Combahee River Collective. Since that time we have written two pieces that use FRC at the author. All of us involved in the pieces, regardless of level of commitment will list the publication (or presentation) on their cvs. I tried to enter these two papers into my yearly performance review and found it impossible. After checking with administrators I was advised to have members of the FRC decide on authorship order. Now to be clear, we feel good about the egalitarian way in which we do work out authorship order, but we are committed to the value of acknowledging the deep and pervasive sense in which our work is collective. This form of authorship is a resistance to the neoliberal assessment of our work and the false claim that our work is a collection of efforts rather than a collective effort.

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