Design Principles For These Projects

Inviting Participation

Forms Of Interaction

The Undissertation text and the Woman in White: Grangerized edition both seek to invite contributors to interact with the text on multiple levels.

To facilitate interaction on an individual level, I’ve built notetaking affordances into this project on the web and in digital export formats, allowing users to highlight and comment on the text in the margins as a way to take individual notes. In The Woman in White: Grangerized, I have described different ways to access take notes on, and teach with the project in sections titled “Using This Web Text,” “What Can I Do With This Book?” “Commenting in the Margins,” and “The Annotation Layer, A How-To Guide.”

To facilitate social interactions in the margins of the text, I incorporated a annotation layer as a default sidebar in both the Undissertation and the Woman in White: Grangerized. In the former text, I described some of my goals and commitments to participants in “What Is An Open Dissertation?,” which includes a direct invitation and appeal to readers who may want to critique the text.

In the critical edition, I provided students with descriptions of many of the different moves they could make in a public annotation in the “Commenting in the Margins” section. In this student-facing description, I took care to provide context about how other readers might be interacting with the novel, reminding annotators that some of their peers may not know what happens at the end of the tale and urging participants to keep that in mind when they post anything to do with plot details. (Whether this suggestion will be successful is a mystery, but there are a range of strategies I can adopt to help new readers avoid spoilers should this become a problem. I should also add that while the current design doesn’t allow me to moderate comments at an individual level, I can flag any comments that violate’s standards of appropriate behavior, so this mitigates some of the typical risks of an open commenting platform.)

To facilitate contributions to the critical edition, I’ve provided a range of structured engagement prompts in the “Take Part in This Project” section of The Woman in White: Grangerized.  Many potential participants may not know how to conduct research about the nineteenth century or how to communicate intentionally with other readers of a critical edition, but my goal is to provide the kind of detail and support that will help contributors feel the confidence to share their work with others in this text. For this reason, I have also composed a research guide that outlines expectations for source engagement and provides links to relevant primary and secondary resource databases.

I want to make the contribution process as transparent as possible, and so have provided a “Contribution Guidelines” section of the critical edition in which I describe what the submission process will look like. I have also provided potential participants with a participant contribution rubric that outlines some of my expectations for essays or footnotes that people submit. I want participants to know that I’m invested in helping them take part in this project. I’ve framed my participant contribution rubric developmentally, so I’ve used rubric headings to stress that just because a submitted draft doesn’t quite address the critical edition’s learning outcomes doesn’t mean that it’s not under consideration for future inclusion. These headings span from “Well-Developed (Ready for inclusion in the text)” to “Opportunities for Development (May be ready for inclusion, but revisions recommended)” and finally to “Requires Further Development (Not yet ready for inclusion in the text).” In all cases, my goal is for writers to understand that my feedback is intended to help them participate.

Teaching Techniques

Recognizing that instructors may find it useful to embed the critical edition into their Canvas page or adapt this project into an interactive critical edition of their own, I’ve provided instructors with guidance on these approaches in the sections “For Instructors: Sharing and Embedding This Project” and “For Instructors: Cloning and Remixing This Text.”

To make embedding this text in Canvas easier for some instructors who are uncomfortable with Common Cartridge uploads, I’ve also shared a Canvas-embedded version of this project on Canvas Commons.

Philosophical Underpinnings

One of my reasons for devoting so much attention to these modes of interaction was that I wanted to create a participatory resource that would complement excellent open Victorian Studies projects that already exist on the web. Sites like the Central Online Victorian Studies Reader (COVE) provide high-quality, free, and peer-reviewed scholarly commentary on texts. I appreciate that COVE and projects like it prioritize participant access to scholarly work. COVE outlines many values I share in the COVE Constitution. I share the organization’s commitment to being an “open-access alternative to any press or commercial provider that seeks to profit from the work of Victorian academics” and to “[embrace] the expanded global nature of today’s research communities and changing dynamics of scholarly production” (COVE Constitution).

While I see a value in sharing the work of the most celebrated scholars in the field outside of paywalled databases, I also see the value in making a deliberate space where students of all levels (as well as non-students!) can, in the words of Rajiv Jhangiani, “shape the public knowledge commons of which they are a part” (“Open Educational Practices”). Given the range of voices not adequately reflected in nineteenth-century scholarship, it felt important to me to create a text that invited, facilitated, and supported widespread participation regardless of status.

Works Cited

COVE Constitution.” The Central Victorian Online Educator (COVE), Permalink:

Jhangiani, Rajiv. “Open Educational Practices in Service of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Open Con, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 2018. Recording and transcript: Permalink.:


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