Excited for an opportunity to help a mentor and professor complete the writing of his non-fiction poli-sci themed book by providing some 'conceptual editing and framing'. Over half of it is written some time ago but he plans to revisit those ideas and has invited me along, but we don't know in what capacity would make sense. We will begin with meeting (not sure how often) and my response to what he's written and perhaps extending his analysis based on my lived experiences (as a member of the key communities discussed), via scholarship and analysis, and to inspire/fire up support for him to finish the book.

So my question is what kinds of roles exist that approximate this kind of engagement? What kind of compensation is associated with that role or any role commensurate to what has been described? I also should acknowledge that i think that this particular work is monumental and I care much more about some degree of acknowledgement and name association compared to monetary compensation. How should we approach this working collabo? Thanks

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    This is exciting. Is it possible the terms are not clear because he is 'feeling you out?' Also, do either of you have a track record with publications, either academic or otherwise? Obviously a coauthor role is possible, but if he is not offering this, it may be because he wishes to keep the creative license. have you authored papers with him?
    – SFWriter
    Mar 31, 2018 at 0:59
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    I absolutely believe your perception is accurate. It does seem he is feeling me out. He began with inviting me to review the book’s proposal and sharing feedback. To answer your questions: he does have a far more extensive track record than mine-two books,and in context of my potential rolehe just want to get this work done and something in reference to his full professor tenure means that there’s not anything he “needs” from this book (roughly paraphrased)—i assumed meant money but i’d like to clarify. More than anything im thrilled to have an up close seat to how this process actually works.
    – CBrillo
    Mar 31, 2018 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


When you look into scientific or popuplar science books, there are often acknowledgements listing all the people that where of "invaluable help", offered feedback, helped with editing the book, or provided information. Sometimes this kind of help is extensive, and yet these people are not listed as authors, because they did not write the book, and they do not receive a share of the sales.

One scholar providing information, discussion, and feedback on the content of the book of another scholar is usually done voluntarily and without compensation. It is part of the social life of a scientific community. This kind of help is usually but not always acknowledged in the acknowledgements.

Editing, research, sometimes even writing up small research papers which the book's author can process into sections of his book, is usually done by students who work as research assistants for the professor (in his capacity as a university teacher). These research assistants receive monetary compensation from the university at which they are employed. This kind of help is often but not always acknowledged in the acknowledgements.

If you are asked to help shape the basic outline of the book and/or write part of the final publication, you are a co-author and should be listed as such.

Not all scholarly publications are paid. Professors are paid by their universities, and their publications are considered part of their job. Scientific journals never pay for the research they publish, and scientific monographs often have small print runs that barely provide any income to the publishers at all. Only popular science books are commonly paid for. So whether being a co-author comes with any money will depend on what you publish and where.

These are the three options – feedback and information from one scholar to another, research assistant, and co-author – and when you write that "we don't know in what capacity" you are going to work with him and that you "will begin with meeting ... and my response to what he's written and perhaps extending his analysis", this sounds to me as if your next few meetings and the work you do in between them are meant to find out how you may work together and clarify your status.

"[E]xtending his analysis" would be the work of a co-author, while "response to what he's written" sounds like free feedback (and a mention in the acknowledgements). "[S]cholarship and analysis" could both be the work of a paid research assistant (mentioned in the acknowledgements) and a co-author.

If you get the impression that you are going to be doing the groundwork as an assistant for your professor's publication, don't hesitate to ask for employment and remuneration. Whether or not he mentions you in the acknowledgements is up to him. You can ask for it, but not demand it, although not mentioning you would be extremely rude.

If you are given equal status and influence on the content and you agree that you will be writing or cowriting (parts of) the book, ask him directly about this, if he doesn't mention it himself. Consider asking another question on Academia.SE then, about how this kind of cooperation is usually done, whether there is a contract or just a spoken agreement, etc.

  • Wow this is fantastic insight and incredibly empowering. Thank you.
    – CBrillo
    Mar 31, 2018 at 12:28

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