Why textbook & academic authors should make time for Twitter

Twitter birdOf the major social media platforms, Twitter is, in my opinion, the most effective for wordsmiths like textbook and academic authors. The 140-character constraint on tweets—the messages one posts on Twitter—turns out to be rather freeing: the site rewards concision and encourages straightforwardness.

Specialists like textbook and academic authors can and should use Twitter for professional marketing purposes—to demonstrate their know-how, interface with other experts, reach readers, generate leads, generate publicity for their work, and make professional connections. All of these aims can be furthered with Twitter—it’s just a matter of tweeting intentionally. [Read more…]

Quote or paraphrase? Three tips from a pro

quotesIt’s a pity when surface problems scuttle otherwise strong scholarship. As an academic editor, I’ve noticed that poorly handled quotations are particularly damning. Inelegant use of prior scholarship can give the impression that a writer is unsophisticated, or even amateur.

Naturally, research does involve mining books and articles to inform our own arguments, which are ideally novel and substantial but still reference that prior work. Often there may be temptation to repurpose existing literature that seems to say exactly what needs to be said in order to get to ideas that are original. It can certainly be difficult to think around the particular ways in which influential scholars have formulated cornerstone concepts. [Read more…]

How to Write a Sophisticated, Dynamic Scholarly Argument

Tweed Gears

It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.

Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.

Another quirk I’ve noticed is that less effective manuscripts—whether they’re written by early-career scholars or not—tend to organize information into lists. That may not sound so damning, but lists become vulnerabilities when they are presented as arguments. [Read more…]