Authors’ suit against Cengage hits snags

In October 2019, six authors, intending to form a class action together with other Cengage authors, filed a lawsuit against Cengage alleging that Cengage’s royalty accounting for proceeds from distribution of their products through the MindTap and Cengage Unlimited business models breached the publisher’s royalty arrangements with authors. In addition to the breach of contract claim, the authors alleged that Cengage acted in bad faith towards authors regarding the two products. Before a trial could get underway, Cengage responded by asking for all counts to be dismissed, and that the attempt to form a class action be denied.

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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 16, 2020

Andre Gide once said, “The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.” As academic authors we balance the creative process of writing (and ideas that may be perceived as madness) with the need to express those ideas through reason and logic. Along the writing journey we have to, therefore, be willing to prompt progress with madness and continue writing with reason. In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we find advice on both.

Included are mental models for writers, unusual essay writing tips, and completely maddening ideas like planning to rest. These are balanced with practical advice on things like style, tone and grammar, launching a book during a pandemic, and building a credible web presence.

Whatever you are working on this week, be fueled by the madness of your ideas and anchored in the reason of your writing process. Happy writing!

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Building content dexterity into your textbook

Recently my mentor, Paul Martinelli, was talking about creating and delivering content for various audiences and in a variety of ways. As part of his lesson, he said, “Content dexterity is key. You need to be able to speak on your subject for 3 seconds, 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days”. Having taught many 3-hour class sessions in more than 20 years of teaching experience, that time period certainly is comfortable for me, but what about the others?

As textbook authors, we often write the book around the expectation of class sessions. We envision the classroom audience, the common structure of classroom time where our book will be used, and the depth and breadth of coverage of concepts necessary to meet the curriculum standards of the course. We then have a tendency to structure chapters and units around those constraints.

But I question whether that approach is effective in our current educational environment. Below I offer some ways that you might want to consider building content dexterity into your next textbook.

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Are you good enough?

We all have a little voice inside our head. Sometimes it is a coach, or a bully, or a nag, or a guide. The voice can be the driving force behind some of our decisions, fortunately or unfortunately. It can guide relationships, career choices, and inevitably, our writing.

Writing, editing, and researching are solitary pursuits by nature. They can be driven forward by passion and curiosity, or promoted by achieving greater heights. But they can also be way laid by self-doubt.

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Welcome new members to TAA: September 2020

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 19 new TAA members who joined us in September 2020. 

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3 Undeniable signs you need to revise

Between bouts of hating what we write, we may secretly admire our creations. And we’re entitled to. But there’s a difference between admiration and excessive love of our own words. Such love blinds us to editorial blunders, judicious cutting, faults in logic, and any other revision, and reduces the possibilities of publication.

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Why success is not enough

Are you successful? What does success look like? Is it a specific number of published works? Is it a certain amount of annual royalties? Is it the completion of a degree or the achievement of a specific title or position? How do you define success?

Now that you have a clear image of success in your mind, ask yourself, is success the goal? Will those checkmarks of achievement satisfy your pursuit of happiness and meaning or are they merely stepping stones to something more?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to be successful – and you should too – but success is not enough.

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Developing #TrustInPeerReview from author to audience, Part 4: Trust is appreciated by the reader

We have now explored the roles of authors, reviewers, and publishers in the peer review process and how those three sets of actors affect an established culture of trust in peer review – the theme of this year’s Peer Review Week event. In summary, authors establish trust through integrity of research and reporting, reviewers develop that trust through unbiased and constructive feedback, and publishers demonstrate trust through effective and transparent communication of the peer review processes in place.

When in concert with one another, these three aspects lead to an ultimate reader satisfaction and appreciation of the process by which they can trust the results of the peer review process culminating in the manuscript they receive.  In today’s post, we will explore some of the factors of audience appreciation as they relate to trust in peer review.

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Developing #TrustInPeerReview from author to audience, Part 3: Trust is demonstrated by the publisher

So far this week, we have explored aspects of how trust in peer review is fostered and maintained in academic publishing environments. Specifically, we have examined the responsibility of authors to establish trust through honest manuscript submission and of reviewers to further develop that trust by conducting unbiased and quality reviews.

In this post, we’re going to look at how the publisher is ultimately responsible for demonstrating that established trust to and audience of readers.

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Developing #TrustInPeerReview from author to audience, Part 2: Trust develops through the reviewers

In this series of posts exploring how trust in peer review is established, maintained, and delivered, we began yesterday by discussing the author’s role in establishing trust through honest research and reporting practices.

Today, we will explore the responsibilities of the reviewers to further develop that trust through unbiased and quality review practices that lead to an ultimate goal of publishing quality work that is accepted and trusted by the readers.

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