The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: February 16, 2018

"Writing is my passion, not my job. I need to write as much as I need to breathe, if not more." ~A.E. CroftIs writing your passion? As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, we look at some of the articles focused on ways to make what we love to do – textbook and academic writing – even better. Included in the list are ways to de-stuff your writing, appropriately incorporate illustrations, and combat isolation through peer writing groups. From a technical perspective, topics of quantitative set analysis, methodology, social bookmarking with reading lists, peer review processes, and Open Access also make the list of topics.

As you continue your writing efforts this week, reflect on the significance of your contribution and the love of writing that consumes your practice. As A.E. Croft put it, “Writing is my passion, not my job. I need to write as much as I need to breathe, if not more.” [Read More…]

When is a manuscript finished?

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” ~Anne LamottOne of my favorite books on writing is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I reread this profound book the other day. I was struck by two points; one small and one big. The small one was about how quaint it sounds in the pre-email and pre-digital era. The big one is how it has endless great advice on nearly every page. Most writers would fare well with dissecting it and following many of the precepts the author sets forth.

One of the top quotes I repeat from the book (along with countless others) is “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” [Read More…]

Student review of textbook provides valuable feedback

When was the last time you received honest feedback about your textbook from students? For many authors, feedback is provided during production from a team of editors. For a luckier few, instructor and student review may be part of the production process, especially for first editions. But rarely do authors have direct feedback from the students their book is intended to serve post-adoption.

Dr. Elizabeth Losh, associate professor of English and American Studies at William & Mary University, and author of Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, has made student feedback a key component of her writing process.

2/20 TAA Webinar: “Get Your Stalled Writing Back on Track”

Sometimes writing projects, no matter how worthwhile or necessary, lose momentum. Stalled projects can become albatrosses, draining our energy and keeping us trapped.

Join us Tuesday, February 20 from 2-3 p.m. for the TAA webinar, “Get Your Stalling Writing Project Back on Track,” presented by Joli Jenson, author of Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics. In this one-hour webinar, you’ll learn structured techniques to figure out the best way to deal with your stalled writing project, as well as strategies and support for recommitting to, reframing or appropriately relinquishing your stalled project. This makes it possible for you to move forward with a project you truly want to write.

Writing for readers

I am in that singular stage of insanity called finishing a book. My mind is full of details and questions such as, “did I already cover this in Chapter 1” or “do I have too many diagrams in this chapter”? At the same time, I can’t help but think about my reader.

I hope that my reader will hungrily devour the book from start to finish, stopping only to make notes about how she will put my ideas to use. I hope it will be dogeared, full of notes and highlights my reader will return to time and again. But seriously, how can we plan for the realities that will occur when masterpiece is in someone else’s hands? Here are some of my apprehensions, and the strategies I’m using to address them.

5 ways to incorporate podcasting with your scholarship

In part 1 of a two-part webinar series titled, “Promoting Your Scholarship via Podcasting (It’s Easier than You Think!)”, Dr. Katie Linder, director of the Ecampus Research Unit at Oregon State University and the host of the “You’ve Got This” podcast, “The Anatomy of a Book” podcast and the “Research in Action” podcast, introduced the concept of podcasting as an online radio show – one in which scholars can establish expertise on a topic. Addressing the individual scholar, she posed five questions to initiate the conversation of how to incorporate podcasting with scholarship.

How not to complete your dissertation

From my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have noticed that women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to a dissertation.

Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories of doctoral candidates (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you are a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions complete your dreamed-of doctorate.

How to explain complex ideas in a simple way

As teachers and authors, we are often faced with the challenging task of conveying information that, although second nature to us, is completely foreign to the students learning the material. Several experienced textbook authors share their best practices for explaining complex ideas in a simple way, including the use of metaphors, visuals, procedures/processes, and hands-on multisensory activities to improve learning success.

Cengage promises more details about how royalties will be calculated on Cengage Unlimited subscriptions by March

In a January 25 email to its authors, Cengage said that it will have more detailed information about how royalties will be calculated on Cengage Unlimited subscriptions by March. “With the introduction of Cengage Unlimited, we know authors are keenly interested in how royalties will be calculated,” the email stated. “To answer that question, we are currently building out the Cengage Unlimited platform and assessing financial and royalty systems to enhance our ability to track student access.”

Five ways to fix your unrealistic to-do list

It’s a few weeks into the semester and you might feel as if you’re already behind. There was a project you wanted to finish, but somehow you didn’t. You feel disappointed and discouraged. If you’re already behind, how will you achieve all the goals you’ve established for the semester?

You may have grand plans to start this year off better than the last. Your intention is to make up for all the work you didn’t complete in December, and then some. For academics, we not only have a new year, but a new semester – a fresh start on multiple counts.