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Queen's MineWiki - Guidelines for contributing authors

These notes are prepared to help prospective authors in preparing contributions. Submissions can be made to any member of the Editorial Board, whose contact details can be found here or by clicking on the Contact us link in the navigation bar on the left.

The wiki concept

There are many books and other publications on mining engineering, so why is another needed? For those engaged in the practice of mine design, it quickly becomes apparent that existing reference material suffers from one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Too simple.
  • Too specialized.
  • Out of date.
  • Difficult to find guidance or opinions on certain topics.

Also, a great deal of expertise remains locked in the heads of experienced practitioners. The combined effect is that there is no single go-to reference on the art of mine design.

Development of this handbook aims to solve these problems.

In order to be useful, it should be concise, easy to use, current, and easy to maintain and update. These characteristics are impossible to achieve in standard paper handbook format, but with the emergence of web-based methods of content management, a relatively new platform with these characteristics has been developed - the wiki.

Some key characteristics of wikis are:

  • A wiki is essentially an online database for creating, browsing, and searching through information organized into pages representing different topics.
  • Wiki pages are highly interconnected using menus, local and global tables of contents, hyperlinks from keywords in text, making navigation and searching of content easy.
  • Wikis have been developed specifically to facilitate collaborative writing, and to be continually developed by users.

Of particular importance for the development of an online handbook on mine design are that:

  • Pages on new topics can be inserted and linked with ease.
  • Editing of pages to update information or techniques is easy.
  • Wiki's incorporate discussion pages linked to each topic page that will enable discussion and commenting to take place. This is an essential component of capturing diverse opinion and expertise on difficult aspects of mine design. Through this mechanism, the document can evolve through input from a wide user base. See Exchanging views to learn how documents evolve in wikis used by professional communities.

There is no doubt that the range of topics and corresponding skills required to complete a mine design study is broad. To ensure that this range is captured in the handbook, it will need to be developed by a number of contributing authors, each with expertise in their respective fields. Multiple authors, combined with a new delivery format, raises the risk of complications. The purpose of this document, therefore, is to provide general guidelines to contributing authors so that the handbook will have a relatively uniform “look and feel” that will make enhance usability.

Intended audience

The main audience for the handbook mining professionals engaged in carrying out mine design studies at any level (scoping through feasibility). The handbook is also intended to be a major reference for upper year university students learning the art of mine design.

The level of knowledge of the intended audience is a major factor in determining the level of background information and technical detail that should be included. For this handbook, it can be assumed that users will have the following characteristics:

  • A general knowledge of mining engineering.
  • Some knowledge of the mine design process, but possibly with limited experience in execution.
  • Limited reference material on hand.


The handbook is intended to be a comprehensive reference for both the process and details of current mine design practice. Scope, or level of detail for each of these aspects, is perhaps the most important factor for contributing authors to consider. Too little information and it will not be functional for practitioners; too much and the reader may become lost in details and confused.

As a general guide in planning contributions, authors might consider the following questions:

  • What key points would you as an expert write down for yourself as a checklist, and what key information would you write for each topic?
  • Considering your experience, in addition to the formal design procedures what advice would you give (strengths and weaknesses, risks, opportunities etc.)?
  • What significant resources would you refer readers to for additional background?

It is recommended that authors prepare an outline or table of contents for their topic prior to commencement of writing, and to discuss these with the handbook editors. Additional advice on how the selected topic will fit in with other related topics can be provided by the editors that might help define the scope.

Topics to be included in the handbook

Topics for inclusion in the handbook will generally follow a prescribed Table of Contents, with submissions of content being made to the editorial board in a standard format described in this guide. However, within the particular topic, authors are encouraged to develop the content as they see fit. Sub-topics not included in the master table of contents may be included if required, but significant deviations from the topic under consideration should be discussed with the site editor.

Dealing with different stages of the design process

The mine design process starts with a scoping study, proceeds through various levels of feasibility study, and if viable, ends with detailed design. Authors should describe the engineering principles and procedures in each of these levels of design - with the exception of detailed design. This final stage of design will be omitted from the handbook as the engineering becomes quite site specific, the engineering principles are used and will be described for the earlier stages of design, and it's exclusion will make writing more manageable.

The amount of detail required for any topic depends on the level of study. General parameters in a back-of-the-envelope calculation may be sufficient in a scoping study, but computer simulation may be required in a feasibility-level study. How should these differing levels of detail for the same topic be accommodated? This issue is central to the organization of the handbook in wiki format.

For completeness, the handbook should describe the level of engineering detail required at each level of study. There will be common elements contained in each level of study. In some cases, it will be simply the quality of information that is enhanced with progressive stages of study, whereas in other cases, methods of analysis may also differ.

It is suggested that for each topic, contributing authors identify a list of tasks and arrange them in a table of the following type (using some elements of geotechnical site investigation as an example):

Stages of feasibility study Geotechnical site investigation Scoping Pre-feasibility Feasibility Point load strength testing limited - - Laboratory strength testing limited more detailed supplementary (if required) Joint mapping limited more detailed Stress measurement literature survey literature survey in situ testing

A table such as this should be placed at the beginning of the section for the Topic being presented, after the outline. Each of the cells in the above table describing a different level of effort required for a particular topic can be hyperlinked to the section dealing with that topic/stage. In this way, the on-line format of the handbook can be used to hide potential duplication of descriptions from the user.

Linking will be carried out by the editors, but contributing authors should indicate in the title of each section which stage of study the section is relevant to.

Opinions vs. facts, and contentious topics

Mine design is part art form, building on substantial bodies of practical experience. Not all procedures or recommendations can be justified on the basis of fact or refer to the scientifically refereed literature. However, it is recognized that some guidance on undocumented topics will be better than omitting the topic altogether. The same applies to topics on which there may be differing opinions. This approach also helps to identify topics that require further attention in the form of future research. An example of a widely known and used collection of opinion is the Hard Rock Miners Handbook (Jack de la Vergne , McIntosh Redpath Engineering Limited). We are certainly better off with this book than without it, but we must be aware of the empirical nature of the advice and use it accordingly.

Topics that may be written largely on the basis of experience, opinion, rule of thumb, should be included if the topic is relevant to the mine design decision making process, but it must be clearly identified as such. Where little information is available in the literature, note should be made that the recommendations are based on limited information and may require careful monitoring if adopted.

It is also recognized that even experts may differ in their approaches and recommendations for design in certain instances. Whereas a textbook presents only the viewpoint of the author, a wiki can capture a range of opinion. This is facilitated in two ways:

  1. Discussion pages
    Most wikis have discussion pages attached to topic pages. These discussion pages are open to all users and present a forum for discussion of design procedures. It is hoped that through discussion, design procedures can be refined over time. This will also be a useful mechanism helping to identify potential research topics.
  2. Revision of posted draft articles by community members
    See exchanging views for a description of how this collaboration has been implemented in the MineDesignWiki.

Keywords and linking to other topics

Authors are requested to develop a list of keywords relevant to their topic. These will be used by the editors to link the topic to others in the handbook. Since readers will not have a formal index to the handbook, searches by keywords or browsing topic titles will be the main means of navigation and searching for desired information. As a guide:

  • Keyword choices may be developed from section headings.
  • They should be single words wherever possible.
  • Related topics mentioned in the text and covered elsewhere in the handbook will be linked by the editors.

Guidelines on describing products or commercial procedures

In most cases there should be no need for authors to refer to specific brands or models of products. The handbook should provide guidance on the methodology and principles used in developing feasibility studies and generic quantities, capacities, rates etc. should be sufficient, without making reference to commercial products (e.g.. capacity in tonnes, m3, rates in m3/hr, l/sec etc.).

In certain cases it may be unavoidable to make reference to a particular commercial product. In those instances, care should be taken in describing methods or procedures involving use of commercial products in order to avoid making endorsements. It will be helpful to mention alternatives.

A standard clause will be prepared stating that the authors do not endorse any particular brand, but mention of specific products may be made for illustration purposes and should not be taken as an endorsement. A hyperlink to this clause will be included where the author or editors feel it is warranted.

If lists of products are to be included, they should be inclusive of a variety of vendors.

If a company later contacts the editors with a request to be included in a particular list, that request will be accommodated provided inclusion is justified.

No commercial advertising will be permitted in the handbook.

Attribution, referees, references, and bibliography

Attribution of Articles

Contributing authors are selected for their expertise; attribution is not only a form of recognition, it is a measure of credibility for readers. Therefore, in recognition of their contributions, authors of each topic will be clearly acknowledged.


Scientific and engineering publications employ a rigorous process of anonymous peer review. This acts as a method of quality control, usually helps to improve the clarity of contributions, and improves credibility. The editorial board will make use of this process for contributions to the mine design handbook. Referees will be invited on the basis of their domain of expertise.

Although referees may choose to remain anonymous to authors, articles in the handbook will only be attributed to authors. However, a list of referees will be clearly identified in the handbook as a means of recognition and for credibility.


There are various issues related to creation of an online handbook:

  • Protection of copyright and intellectual property of the contributing authors,
  • Use of material published and copyrighted elsewhere (photographs, figures, text),
  • Obtaining permission from companies to release proprietary procedures, drawings, photographs etc.
  • Attaching copies of referenced papers.

Since copyright law is relatively complex (see the Copyright Act, C-42, at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/) , it is safest to assume that permission must be obtained from the copyright owner if use is made of identifiable material from published or commercial (company) sources.

The handbook will be open to the internet, i.e. it will be available in the public domain, and application of the contents may be used for commercial mine design purposes. Therefore it is important that all copyright issues must be cleared prior to posting. This means that permissions to include copyrighted material must be obtained prior to their use in the handbook.

In order to expedite preparation of the handbook, and to make use of contributing authors in their respective areas of expertise, the task of obtaining permissions shall be relegated to CEMI staff. However, authors should clearly identify any copyrighted material they have included in their submissions. The exception to this procedure will be when authors make use of material derived from their own practice or from the company they work for. In these cases, authors are asked to obtain written permission to release the material directly and submit this along with their contributions.

Value will also be added to the references or bibliography if pdf files of the source material can be included on the web site. Permissions to do so vary by publisher and journal. Policies for these can be found at:

The general principle for authors to adopt is that when in doubt about copyright, make a note and bring this to the attention of the editorial board when making submissions.

Intellectual property

The intellectual property of contributions created by authors will belong to the originating author. However, to permit unrestricted access to the handbook over the internet, use will be made of a license agreement that will acknowledge attribution, but allow the handbook to be published in this form.

It is the intention of the editors to include terms of use under the Creative Commons general public license. A summary of this license can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

This license has three main components (taken from the above web site):

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Non-commercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

See also the GNU Free Documentation License description:


Note: We need to talk to someone knowledgeable in the IP / copyright area for some professional advice on this topic.

See also

Exchanging views
Contribute an article
Editing standards