Tentative, Qualitative Definition of Terms

Laura: The nature of the dissertation requires a clear definition of key terms. Creswell

(2009) stresses the importance of defining terms that “individuals outside the field may not

understand and that go beyond common language… define a term if there is any likelihood

that readers will not know its meaning” (p. 39). Due to the qualitative nature of our study, we

will share a few “tentative, qualitative definitions” now “because of the inductive, evolving

methodological design” (Creswell, 2009, p. 40). Qualitative research allows for changing

perspectives, and as conscientious researchers, we are allowing the space for these terms to

evolve throughout our study. In addition, due to the unique nature of our two non-traditional

dissertations, we define these terms within the framework of each of our own qualitative

research approaches. In this section, we provide our definitions of shared writing situations

that are framed as co-authored, collaborative, and cooperative—as well as what we mean by

intertextuality—so readers (including ourselves as research-participants) can orient

themselves toward the specific contexts of our dissertation and, in particular, the text that

follows in chapter one. In the next chapter, we will construct a richer and fuller discussion of

each term.

Sabatino: Co-authored. Ede and Lunsford (1983) acknowledge there are many

perceptions of co-authorship, from “two authors [who] contribute separate sections, which

are then put together” to their own process, which is “conceiving, drafting, and revising a text

together” (pp. 151-152). For a co-authored project, however, we believe it would be possible

for two people to never see one another or comment on each other’s work and still create a

co-authored piece. Michael Blitz, for example, recalls when two scholars agreed to co-author

a work for an edited collection and then submitted two separate, solo-authored pieces to him.

Blitz, as editor, had to “stitch together the pieces” to create a co-authored piece with two

names on the article with shared credit, despite the fact that neither author had participated in

the creation of the other’s contribution (cited in Day & Eodice, 2001, p. 27). We would not

consider such a work a collaborative piece because the writers had not worked together or

combined their writing in any way prior to submission. Like the work of Blitz and Hurlbert

(1998) and Day and Eodice (2001), we consider our shared writing to be not only coauthored,

but also collaborative.

Laura: Collaborative. We consider “collaborative” to be a narrower term than “coauthored.”

To us, a collaborative project would involve two or more people who worked

together throughout the researching and writing of one text. Collaborative writers would have

shared the tasks of writing the same sections of the piece together, and they would have

reviewed and commented on solo-authored sections of the piece to a point where both voices

and viewpoints informed the text before the two authors submitted the work. In this way, the

partners would have worked as a unit with shared responsibilities with no hierarchal status of

the partnership or approach to the work.

Sabatino: Cooperative. After meeting with the Dean of our graduate school, we were

left with the question: Is our dissertation still collaborative? At that time, we felt it was no

longer a collaborative dissertation because portions of the work would have to be “soloauthored,”

a term we continue to challenge. As such, we contended that the dissertation was

co-authored but not collaborative. Laura saw merit in that viewpoint but countered that as

long as we had worked together (researched, discussed, combined our writing toward a single

project) that we could call the dissertation collaborative. Through much conversation,

reading, and research, we have also concluded that any term we chose to describe our

dissertations must encompass two essential elements: process and product. Benson and Nagar

(2006) pointed to the “serious and promising work to be done to bridge the divide between

processes and products” noting that

[i]t is crucial that we consider how the process unfolds—what is said/written,

individually and dialogically—and how a consideration of the mutually

constitutive relationship between processes and products of collaboration can

open up new spaces for intellectual and political interventions. (p. 586)

For us, we will be using a collaborative process of researching and writing the dissertation

because we will work together throughout the duration. Still, the end product will be coauthored

because some portions of the dissertation will be solo-authored. Because we are not

permitted to submit one piece with both of our names—without signifying solo-authored

sections—we chose to avoid calling the work collaborative. Therefore, we have determined

there is a need to define a new word, which clarifies the “mixed” collaboration, a term we

will call “cooperative.”

Laura: Our dissertation chair has pointed out, “The process is collaborative, but not

the dissertations” (G. Pagnucci, personal communication, March 27, 2011). But because we

worked together throughout the process of composing the project, we did not want to limit

our shared partnership to our understanding of a “co-authored” piece—that is, a collection of

separate pieces that can be joined together into a whole. Instead, we felt we needed to

construct a new term for our dissertation—one that combined our concepts of “collaborative”

and “co-authored” and which more accurately represented our process and end product. We

decided on the term cooperative. In terms of our dissertation texts, we refer to each as

cooperative dissertations because they rely on collaborative processes of research and writing

but also have an end product that is solo-authored and also co-authored and collaborative. In

addition, our two dissertation texts will emerge from the same sources of data—in this way

they cooperate (share and construct meaning) in intertextual ways. Thus, we felt the term

cooperative served as a more generalized term that seemed best applied to our two

dissertations. Figure 1 (below) illustrates the distinctions we draw among cooperative, coauthored,

and collaborative as they pertain to our dissertation.

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