The term collaborative writing is used in reference to projects which have been created by many authors rather than just one. Online collaborative writing has inspired many projects to grow without any editorial guidance and many (including myself) feel that this will change the way in which academic publishing is done in the future.
Wikis, Wikipedia and Wikibooks are the most used form of collaborative writing and are often part of community based websites where users are encouraged to contribute, modify or reference the content. Everyone who joins the community will have writing privileges and can contribute anonymously or use wiki based sites to increase their own online presence. What they can also achieve is an equal balance between the academic and non-academic worlds, allowing contributors and readers alike the chance to share experiences and ideas, as well as the more traditional views.
Does online collaborative writing through the use of wikis help to improve academic content? Both in quality and quantity? Well, there are those that argue it can and will help to improve the quality of content because of its collaborative nature. But others feel that the traditional culture of academic writing will struggle to support such an approach. What is clear is that collaborative writing and wikis in their many forms are still in their infancy, with even the most established sites still struggling for legitimacy. But they will continue to attract academics and non-academics alike because of the ease in which work can be published and in which authors can gain credit and recognition.