The University of Sussex

Practices of collaboration in writing and their support

Eevi Beck

This thesis documents practices in distributed coauthoring which are not consistent with certain assumptions evident in theliterature on collaborative writing systems. Instead of the carrying out of tidy agreements, salient features were flexibility and context sensitivity with which information and situations were interpreted. How the coauthors arrived at decisions about appropriate courses of action, was inseparable. This thesis presents work on what is collaborative writing, looking at what work distributed coauthors engage in to manage their joint writing. Design implications for support tools for distributed collaborative writing are identified. In particular, the issues of task relevance examined in the empirical studies, lead to the argument that a too narrow task focus in teh conceptualisation of collaborative work may be detrimental to providing adequate 'support'.

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