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A workflow for Combinatorial Books

Our proposed workflow for creating, peer reviewing, and publishing Combinatorial Books

Published onDec 01, 2022
A workflow for Combinatorial Books

1: Selection

1.1: The Combinatorial Books editors identify the books within the Open Humanities Press (OHP) publishing programme that are licensed and available for reuse. The editors can also suggest themes around which the engagement might evolve.

1.2: A prospective author or community of authors contact the Combinatorial Books editors with an enquiry to select a title or selection of titles from these titles available within the OHP publishing programme to engage with. 

1.3: The author(s), in consultation with the Combinatorial Books editors, discuss the type of reuse/intervention/rewriting they want to conduct and its specific modalities and submit a proposal to the series editors.  

1.4: Consideration of the proposal by the series editors. The proposed project is accepted, rejected, or author is asked to modify the proposal and resubmit.

1.5: The Combinatorial Books series editors and the OHP editors confirm the above decision (and start planning for it as part of publishing timeline). No contract issued at this stage. But OHP can provide an Intention-to-Publish letter if required.

1.5.1: For texts published under open licences, authors do not have to seek the permission of the original author(s) to remix, transform and build upon the text. However, depending on the type of engagement it might be recommended to seek the consent of the original author(s) (to be discussed by the author(s) and the series editors).

1.6: Author(s), in exchange with the editors and the publisher, should make technical choices around the open source collaborative writing environments they would prefer to use, e.g. EtherPad, EtherPad Lite, HedgeDoc, CryptPad, ONLYOFFICE, Fidus Writer. Note that not every collaborative writing environment will have all the features referred to in this workflow. See the comparison from the COPIM Books Contain Multitudes report: 

2: Engagements and Interventions

2.1: Annotation:

This 2.1 workflow is focused on the collaborative online annotation of existing open access books.

2.1.1: The author or community of authors sets up a specific Hypothesis group for annotations of the original text and adds other author(s) involved in the engagement to that group. Annotations can be made in a private group setting or shared in the public layer. Guides and instructions for Hypothesis can be found at or or

2.1.2: The author or community of authors reflect on and discuss the text, as well as possible modalities for this text’s reuse, by making annotations against the text using the Hypothesis plugin as part of their Hypothesis group. In the case of Open Humanities Press titles, these annotations can be made on either the PDF or HTML versions of the text. The author or community of authors may also wish to coordinate their annotation activity in a collaborative writing environment (see 1.7). The Combinatorial Books editors will also be available on request to help with Hypothesis. If using Google Chrome, the author(s) can annotate using the Hypothesis extension from the Chrome Web Store: If using any other browser, the author(s) can annotate using the Hypothesis JavaScript Bookmarklet:

2.1.3: Structuring the annotations: In preparation for collaborative writing, for example for finding and ordering thematic focal points and draft content and chapter structures, the annotations can be curated, selected, and grouped using Hypothesis tags. See tutorial on tagging in Hypothesis at If a tag needs to be renamed at a later date, it is possible to do so at scale with Jon Udell's tag renaming tool:

2.1.4: Exporting the annotations: Export all the group's online annotations using Jon Udell's prototype tool for exporting from Hypothesis: CSV is preferable as the easiest format to work with and will allow basic spreadsheet software to be used to extract only the text of each annotation. Depending on the number of annotations, the author(s) might also want to export only those annotations with particular tags.

2.1.5: Importing the annotations: Copy the text of all the annotations from the CSV export to a collaborative writing environment. Text can be grouped according to the tags use to sort and classify the annotations (for example, all the ‘chapter 1’ or ‘biodiversity’ or ‘authorname’ tags could be pasted into a separate document or could be grouped in sections in the collaborative writing environment).

2.2: Direct remixing of source text:

This 2.2 workflow is based on direct remixing of the source text.

2.2.1: The Combinatorial Books editors convert the selected text(s) to plain text.

2.2.2: The Combinatorial Books editors import the plain text to the selected collaborative writing environment.

3: Collaborative writing

3.1: In the collaborative writing environment, the author(s) can engage directly with the text whether by expanding and combining the annotations into larger sections of text (i.e. paragraphs, chapters, collections, books) or by intervening in the original source text (remixing, erasing, adding, revising, marking it up, writing over it, inserting new text or images, etc.).

4: Publishing

4.1: The author(s) and Combinatorial Books editors discuss and explore which publishing platform might fit the publication best, topic, concept, and design-wise. Note that the publishing platform and collaborative writing platform might be one and the same.

4.1.1: If a separate publishing platform has been chosen, the Combinatorial Books editors and/or the author(s) transfer the publication to this platform.

4.2: Various possible interventions or remixes with the text including:

4.2.1: Connecting: Optionally the author(s) and Combinatorial Books editors explore different ways in which the connections to the source text can be kept intact or can be erased (e.g. by backlinking via Hypothesis, by referencing via Hypothesis, by using different colours or fonts in the text to distinguish source text from new text, by incorporating images / screenshots of the source text). Note that these methods may determine what publishing environment is used as not every environment supports text colours, images in text, etc.

4.2.2: Versioning: Author(s) can explore whether they want to keep snapshots of the development of the text by saving different versions of the text (e.g. different drafts on different platforms) which can then be showcased as a form of processual publishing (highlighting the research and engagement process). This can be done through either: Using a collaborative writing environment that offers versioning such as those discussed in the COPIM Books Contain Multitudes report spreadsheet at Downloading and preserving regular snapshots of the text as it is developed.

4.2.3: Translation: Author(s) can explore whether they want to translate the text or provide multilingual content.

5: (Bi-lingual) peer review and editing

5.1: The Combinatorial Books editors discuss the open peer review protocol that has been designed for this series with the author(s) and adapt this were appropriate. Note that this review stage can either happen at the end of stage 3 or at the end of stage 4 (depending on the requirements of the author(s) and publication and in consultation with the Combinatorial Books editors).

5.1.1: Based on the reviewers comments the author(s) make corrections and submit to the Combinatorial Books editors.

5.2: The Combinatorial Books editors issue a contract. 

5.2.1: (Optional) External technology and accessibility review: Depending on the modalities of the engagement, the Combinatorial Books editors in consultation with the author(s) may select a group of people to engage with the publication and test its features prior to release to ensure that it works technically and that the publication is accessible, navigable, etc.

5.3: The Combinatorial Books editors edit the text on the publishing platform, this step can either take place before peer review takes place or afterwards (depending on the requirements of the author(s) and publication and in consultation with the Combinatorial Books editors).

5.4: Copy-editing checked and approved by author(s).

5.5: Author(s) submit(s) final copy of text manuscript, together with required permissions and author data sheet.

6: Dissemination

6.1: Book information placed on OHP website as advance notice of publication.

6.2: Exporting: Once the text is finalised, the publisher exports the text into whatever formats are agreed (e.g. PDF, HTML, print). The publisher and the author(s) decide which elements they want to include in the exported publication such as annotations, previous versions of the text, translations, etc.

6.3: Dissemination of the text using existing publishing workflow.

6.4: Manuscript production by OHP (turning Word file into PDF, designing cover, etc.)

6.5: Proof-reading of final manuscript by author, to be checked by series editor.

6.6: Publication of online and print versions and data provided to British Library, other union catalogues, etc.

7: Preservation

7.1: The publisher and author(s) make decisions about the maintenance and preservation of the processual text elements and the links between the new text and the source text. This may include:

7.1.1: Ensuring that documents in cloud-based collaborative writing environments are accessible by the publisher and that copies are downloaded and stored in a secure long-term digital storage environment.

7.1.2: Ensuring that all the annotations are exported from Hypothesis and stored in CSV and/or JSON format in a secure long-term digital storage environment.

7.1.3: Ensuring that any versions of the text (i.e. previous versions or translations) are downloaded and stored in a secure long-term digital storage environment.

7.1.4: Ensuring that websites used for processing and collaboration are preserved by the Internet Archive.

graphic representation of the Combinatorial Books workflow

graphic representation of the Combinatorial Books workflow

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