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Cirrus Student Manual
A Guide to Using the Cirrus System and to Writing in the Digital Environment
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by Cirrus
  • Published Work vs. Assessment

    Cirrus gives students who produce excellent exhibitions the opportunity to have their work published on the AustLit website.

    View previously published student exhibitions here.

    To be eligible for publication, your work must be of an excellent standard. It will then pass through the publication process outlined below. As a result, you will have a professionally published work in addition to your other assessment outcomes.

    However, there are key differences between writing for assessment and writing for publication. Keeping these in mind will help you understand the process that your work will undergo as it is published.

  • Readership

    Assessment is, in essence, a form of private writing: your assignment is rarely read by more than one person, your tutor. When you are writing a research essay, for example, you are writing for your tutor and with a view to producing what your tutor wants to read. That can result in excellent research essays–but published work has a much broader readership and has to appeal more broadly.

    Preparing your exhibition for publication will include considering how it appeals to its readership.

    The following are the sort of questions we might be asking as we revise your work for publication:

    • Will people outside your area understand the work?
    • Do you need to provide background information?
    • Have you explained technical terms?
    • Have you grabbed the attention of a general readership?
  • Aim

    Assessment is functional writing. With all assessment, the primary aim is first and foremost to receive a grade. You produce your finished assignment to meet the criteria that will result in a particular grade. But with published work, your aim can be very different. You might aim to educate, to amuse, to inspire. Without the assessment criteria, the work might have a looser structure, a more colloquial tone, different images, more jokes.

    Preparing your exhibition for publication will include considering its aim, and how well you bring that across.

    The following are the sort of questions we might be asking as we revise your work for publication:

    • how clear is the aim of your work?
    • does that aim appeal to a general readership?
    • does the aim suit the topic?
  • Focus

    Assessment is usually very focused work: you respond to a specific prompt or essay question, and all your argument focuses on that one idea. But publishing your work allows you to open it up to ideas that may not have been suitable when the work was submitted for assessment: you can follow tangents, explore different ideas, raise open-ended questions. The work still needs to be logical and coherent, but it needn't follow the single, dedicated train of thought that a research essay, for example, often requires.

    The following are the sort of questions we might be asking as we revise your work for publication:

    • does the focus of the work appeal to a wide readership?
    • does the work have a logical structure?
    • can the work be opened out or expanded?
  • The Publication Process

    Once your work is selected for possible publication on AustLit, it will undergo a editing and publishing process. In this process, you will be interacting with your editor as a professional, rather than as a student.

    As with any publishing process, you should be familiar with what the publisher wants: listen to the feedback from the editors, but also look at other published student exhibitions, to see what kind of work is published on AustLit.

    As with professional publications, there are three steps to the process: commissioning, structural edits, and copy edits.

  • Commissioning

    After your final exhibition is submitted for assessment and marked, course coordinators will choose which exhibitions they think should be considered for publication on AustLit.

    Remember: you are under no obligation to publish your exhibition if you don't wish to. The choice is yours. If you don't wish to publish your exhibition, please let us know when we contact you.

    Exhibitions that are chosen for publication on AustLit will need to be of superior quality. We will be looking for exhibitions that meet some (or all) of the following criteria:

    • are dynamic and engaging
    • demonstrate a sound grasp of writing for a digital environment
    • use the Cirrus exhibition platform in clever and interesting ways
    • make a strong argument
    • are well written and enjoyable to read

    Generally, we would expect that exhibitions that are assessed highly are also likely to be good candidates for publication but, as we noted above, assessment and publication are not always identical. This is where a structural editor comes in: to help take your work from assessment to publication.

  • Structural Editing

    If your exhibition is chosen, an Cirrus staff member will be in contact to offer structural editing feedback.

    Structural editing is sometimes called 'substantive editing', because more substantial changes take place at this level of editing. It is also the most time-consuming phase of the editing process: once you're through the structural edit, the rest is smooth!

    A structural edit can be a surprising experience, but remember if we have approached you about publishing your work, we already consider it to be strong and interesting. The aim of a structural edit is to make it even stronger.

    The structural edit is where your editor is likely to suggest alterations such as rearranging content, adjusting headings, adding audio-visual material, and the like. Questions that might come up in a structural edit include the following:

    • are all elements of the exhibition given equal weight?
    • is the structure logical?
    • is the exhibition easy to read?
    • is audio-visual material used effectively?
    • is your focus clear?
    • do any sections need to be expanded or trimmed?

    We also expect that published exhibitions will confirm to AustLit house style, which is available in this AustLit Style Guide.

  • Copy Editing

    Once you have considered the feedback and made any necessary changes to your exhibition, the work will be given a final copy-edit by AustLit staff.

    The general idea of a copy edit is to bring your exhibition into line with house style. You shouldn't notice any substantial changes to your work at this stage: the edit will be more about wrangling stray punctuation, adjusting capital letters, or catching spelling errors. A good copy edit should be largely invisible.

    When the copy edit is complete, your editor will be in contact to let you know of the final stage: publication.

  • Publication

    After the final copy-edit, your work will be viewed and approved by Kerry Kilner, AustLit's director and general editor. Once this final approval has been made, your exhibition will be made public on the AustLit website. You will be able to download the work as a PDF (which can be added to your ePortfolio) or direct people to the work online.