Creating balance through writing and nature

Creating Balance Through Writing and NatureAs a writing coach who works with academics, one of the stumbling blocks my clients come up against at a certain point in their career is what I call “path block.” This usually happens, ironically, after a big success: finishing the dissertation, getting a new job, or having a book published.

I understand this block and I have experienced it myself. Nature even gave me a literal experience of this block one day many years ago when I was walking in the woods behind my house and the briars and brambles around me stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself, “It would be so much easier if I had a path.” I looked down and there on the ground was a hawk feather. I picked it up and realized I must make my own path. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: February 13, 2015

“Don’t be afraid to write crap because Don't be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer.crap makes great fertilizer.” This quote by Jessica Brody not only put a smile on my face but also rang very true for me. Sometimes our words barely flow or are incoherent in those first drafts, but that’s okay. As John Dufresne says, “The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.” It’s easy to use perfectionism as an excuse not to get words down. Maybe the “crap” that you write will not be salvageable even for fertilizer, but even so, it will get the words flowing. So next time you sit down to write, remember, even “crap makes great fertilizer” and allow yourself to just write. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Make writing your New Year’s Resolution: Sign up for a free 60-day TAA trial membership

2015 TAA Trial MembershipAre you ready to boost your publishing success in 2015? TAA is offering a free 60-day trial membership now through March 1st. This is a great way to get to know TAA for free and to learn how the amazing benefits of a TAA membership provide the knowledge, resources, and community you need to thrive as a textbook or academic author. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: February 6, 2014

This week’s post is jam-packed full of exerice the writing muscle_yolen quotegreat articles for academic and textbook writers. So instead of writing some long paragraph about why I think you should read these articles—news on more predatory publishers, helpful tips, overcoming writing anxiety, motivation, revise and resubmit advice, just to name a few—I’m going to get right to the point. These articles are must reads! So allow yourself to be distracted, only momentarily, and enjoy the articles below. Happy writing! [Read more…]

How to publish an article in an academic journal: Avoid rookie mistakes

publishingI have reviewed an insane amount of articles this past year and have noticed that many of these articles should never have been sent out for review, because they were missing key components.

The authors of these articles thus waited three months for someone to tell them that they do not have a clear argument, that there is no literature review, or that they need to describe their ethnographic methods. Sometimes they waited this long or longer only to hear other fairly generic advice.
I frequently am in the process of submitting an article to a journal. As such, I was inspired to write this article both to make sure that I practice what I preach, and to offer some examples from my own writing that might be useful as you prepare your own article. This article is primarily directed at authors of empirical social science articles, but I believe the main points may be applicable to other fields as well. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: January 23, 2014

This week’s most useful posts are a great mix ofbook aisle quote academic, grant, and textbook content—plus a few “fun” pieces. Each week I roam the internet, from Google searches to Twitter feeds, to find articles that I think you all would be interested in. My hopes are that you find at least one or two every week that are helpful to you and your writing. This week is no different other than I have a favor to ask of you (I rarely ask for favors!). If you have a favorite scholarly, academic, or textbook writing blog, share the title or link in the comments section below. Even though I roam the internet there’s still more great bloggers and content out there. To bring you the best content I need your help in finding those hidden gems (a.k.a bloggers)!

Happy writing! [Read more…]

The nuts & bolts of writing a book review

textbook stackAs a scholar and a writer, I am surrounded by books. I buy books at conferences. I buy books online.  A stack of books grows on my desk, and even finds its way onto any horizontal surface in my living room.  I identify them from reading the reference list of journal articles. I get recommendations from peers.

One of the services I can provide my peers is to write a book review on one of my most recently purchased books. A review serves to help my colleagues decide whether or not they wish to read the book. [Read more…]

Tip of the Trade: Be strict about the type of editing that is suitable for each stage of the revision process

Tips of the Trade ImageAdvice about academic writing often stresses the iterative nature of the writing process; the creation of an effective final draft generally requires multiple drafts and extensive revision. A crucial corollary to a commitment to extensive revision is an acceptance that revision mustn’t be allowed to go on indefinitely. Otherwise, a certain mania can set in: any draft can always be other than it is. After a certain point, we have to ask ourselves about diminishing returns and about the very real possibility of messing up what is already working. [Read more…]

How to establish author order when collaborating with multiple authors

collaborateWhen multiple authors collaborate to write a journal article, the task of determining authorship order inevitably arises. In some situations, the order may be obvious, but in many cases, it can be difficult to decide, and having a plan in place to establish author order can help the process go more smoothly.

Collaborating authors are usually listed in order of the relative size of each author’s contribution to the article, but sometimes it can be a challenge to gauge the size or importance of each author’s contributions. One way of facing this challenge is to take a mathematical approach to determining each author’s contribution, and thus author order. For example, Christine Beveridge and Suzanne Morris, the authors of the July 25, 2007 Nature article entitled “Order of merit,” recommend using a multi-criterion decision making approach, which involves the following steps: [Read more…]

Anatomy of a thriving faculty academic writing program

Dannelle Stevens, Ph.D., Portland State University

Dannelle Stevens, Ph.D., Portland State University

What does it take to spark faculty imagination and engender faculty commitment to academic writing? Over the last three years, through the use of research-based strategies, the Jumpstart Academic Writing Program at Portland State University (PSU) has had remarkable success.

The key features include attention to both the text as well as the context of academic writing. The text, of course, is what is ultimately written and submitted for publication. The context, on the other hand, includes opportunities to practice organizational, social, and even creative strategies that foster insight into current practice and boost motivation to change.

The purpose of the program is certainly to increase productivity as well as to help faculty build a solid foundation of new writing practices that lead to a more satisfying and sustainable writing experience in the long run. [Read more…]