Developing a Project Timeline

There are many steps to producing a textbook, and each of those steps involves multiple responsibilities. While your project plan will ensure the goals and scope of your project are maintained, the actual work of completing your project in a timely manner requires a well-planned timeline that outlines how long it will take to complete each part and to build in time should issues arise.

People work and write at different paces. Even the same people work and write at different paces, depending on internal and external variables that can change at any time. That said, developing a timeline is an important process for clarifying expectations and ensuring optimal teamwork. Typical timelines are 5-12 months.

Often the best timelines are created together, between authors and project managers, working backward from a deadline. The deadline may be personally set, or determined by the academic calendar, a grant, or other external organization. It’s also useful to consult with others you’re working with — freelance editors or proofreaders, for example — to see what their schedules are like and what kind of turn-around time they need.

Example – Backwards Timeline

The project team for an open text on Greek and Roman mythology would like to have the text completed in a 12 month time period starting in June 2020-June 2021. The project has already identified the deliverables and sub-tasks required to complete the textbook and now needs to develop a timeline to meet the June 2021 deadline.

Considering the first the most time-intensive task for completion – writing the text and Pressbooks construction (See – Open Text Construction Time Estimates), the project team worked backward from the date of completion and mapped out the following timeline.

Greek and Roman Mythology Textbook Open Project Timeline

A more detailed project timeline template, including resources and supports available at each step of the project, can be found below.

Timeline Considerations

The timeline will depend required completion time for your open text.  Often this timeline aligns with when the text will be implemented into a course but may also depend on the availability of your team members and authors.

The following are elements of the timeline that require the most time to complete.

Content Development

Content development for your open text requires more than just writing. You will need to determine the structure for each chapter in addition to the research and resources required to write it. If you have multiple authors, you will need to assign a timeline to each author for when their content needs to be complete.

Remember to build in extra time for the beginning phase of the project, as this is when you and your team are learning to work together and with the text, and for any unanticipated delays.

Supplemental Content

Most open educational resources use already existing content. Resources may include photos, illustrations, graphs, tables, figures, videos, audio files, or spreadsheets. To use this content in your work you will need to track all references carefully as would be done for any academic work. If you are using openly licensed text, images, or other resources, pay close attention to the legal requirements for the license to ensure it can be reused and how it needs to be attributed. This content will be needed when loading your textbook content to your open publisher (e.g Pressbooks).

Style Guide and Content Loading

The style guide for an open text outlines how the text chapters and parts will appear visually, in addition to the types of reference styling and structure used across the entire text. The style guide is needed to ensure continuity in design and will save time in loading the content and copy editing.

Peer Review and Copy Editing

Unlike traditional publishing practices where the peer review process is defined and executed by the editorial team, open text development will require the creation of a peer review process, including securing peer reviewers and setting timelines for the process to be completed. To learn about developing a peer review process, go to the Peer Review part of this guide.

Copy editing will require the book to be thoroughly reviewed for errors. This can take a long time as the review is not just for the written content, but all graphic, design, and media elements of the textbook.  You may want to assign more than one copy editor to reduce the time required.

Promotion and Release

The promotional and release plan will come after the completion of your text but is needed if sharing with a broader audience is a part of your objectives. This part of the timeline will require developing standardized metadata, identifying repositories, listservs, and communities for sharing, developing messaging, and sharing your text to the different spaces. To learn more about the promotion and release process, go to the Release Plan part of this guide.



Project Timeline Downloadable Template

Use the following Project Timeline Template to outline the various chapters, parts, and section deadlines of the text and the tasks and sub-tasks required to move from writing to full publication: Open Textbook Project Timeline Template

Note – The timeline includes Pressbooks as the publishing Tool. The timeline can be used even if you are not using Pressbooks. This is meant as a general template. You will need to consider tasks specific to your project that may need to be added.



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UBC Open Text Publishing Guide Copyright © 2022 by Erin Fields; Amanda Grey; Donna Langille; and Clair Swanson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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