Executive Director’s Message: Stand strong in support of education, science, pursuit of knowledge

With the new administration in Washington, I anticipate that the scholarly community will face challenges unlike any it has seen before. The community’s skill at communicating scholarly findings and values, and marshalling public support for them, will be tested.

To cast a light on the immediate and long-term disruptions we are facing, I will focus on just one current policy controversy. As I am writing this message, only a few scant weeks into this administration, universities around the country have joined amicus briefs, issued cautionary advice to their communities, and taken other public stands against the President’s Executive Order banning most travel from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. And things are moving unnervingly fast. The ban has been temporarily halted by courts, but the ever-present threat that it will eventually prevail in court, or be reissued in revised form, creates a dampening effect on scholarly exchanges, while instilling fear and uncertainty among visiting scholars.

While it was in place, the ban had brief, but damaging effects on some scholars and students who happened to be traveling or about to travel when it was instituted. Students were barred from re-entering the country to resume their studies; conference speakers were not allowed to travel to their speaking engagements; and other scholars and students had to reconsider their plans to travel outside the US for fear that they would be barred reentry. Universities are also worried about longer term impacts on future admissions from outside the US or on their ability to attract world-class scholars to their faculty.

This is just one example of many recently enacted policies, promulgated hastily, apparently without much thought to unintended consequences on innocent individuals or vulnerable sectors of society. Not only are the policies themselves damaging, but the administration’s entire approach to governing – featuring the repetition of multiple falsehoods as the rationale for heedless policies, and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees – produces dystopian effects that, I believe, directly impede scholarly work and values. At this time, more than ever in our recent past, the academic community needs to come together to assert the value of scholarly principles, and act to protect them. Principles such as:

  • Freedom of inquiry
  • Commitment to expanding human knowledge through fact-based discourse
  • Recognition that knowledge is iterative, and that multiple perspectives enhance and accelerate problem-solving
  • Devotion to precision of language as the best aid in communication, education, and discovery
  • Curiosity about other viewpoints with the goal of broadening discourse and knowledge

As a community, when we see threats to these principles, we must raise our voices in protest, communicate the negative impacts of proposed or enacted policies, and call on our representatives and political leaders to stand strong in support of education, science, and the pursuit of knowledge.

Mike Spinella
TAA Executive Director

Tip of the trade: The role writing environment plays in productivity

Q: What roles do the writing work space and environment play in productivity?

writingA: Noelle Sterne, author, editor and writing consultant:

“As an academic and mainstream writer and editor, I firmly believe that one’s writing work space and work environment tremendously influence productivity. To discover your best writing environment requires self-analysis and candid (if uncomfortable) answers to several important questions:

1) What is your optimal time for a work session? An hour, three, fifteen minutes? My optimal session is about an hour and a half. But sometimes my brain bubbles like a hot spring, and I can work for three hours straight without hearing my stomach growl. [Read more…]

Speaker spotlight: Rubin, Ulrich, and Wakely to speak at TAA’s 2017 Academic Authoring Conference

Sean WakelyPublishing attorneys Zick Rubin and Brenda Ulrich, and publishing industry expert Sean Wakely, will present “The Life Cycle of a Textbook: Psychological and Legal Challenges,” at TAA’s 30th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, June 9-10, 2017. The panel will discuss the psychological and legal issues that should be addressed at different states of a textbook’s life cycle, and what pitfalls should be avoided.  [Read more…]

Speaker spotlight: Wendy Laura Belcher to speak at TAA’s 2017 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference

Wendy Laura Belcher, an Associate Professor at Princeton University and author of the best-selling book, Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Writing Success, will be a featured speaker at TAA’s 30th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, June 9-10, 2017.

Belcher’s session, “Writing a Journal Article in 12 Weeks: Inspiration, Concepts, and Success,” will highlight key strategies for being a productive academic author and provide insight and inspiration for you as authors, educators, and writing mentors. [Read more…]

To Do: Register for TAA’s June Conference

It’s time to make your travel reservations and check your conference planning off your To Do list! Register today for TAA’s 30th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference.

TAA’s Conference will be held on June 9-10, 2017 at the beautiful Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel, a 4-Star luxury hotel located in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island. The recently renovated boutique hotel is housed in a historic 1920’s era building, providing a one-of-a-kind backdrop for a memorable conference and visit! TAA’s discounted room block fills up fast; make your reservations soon to guarantee the group room rate. [Read more…]

6 Techniques to jumpstart writing efficiency and productivity

Vintage typewriterIn our writing projects—dissertation, article, book, presentation—after the first brilliant idea or paragraphs of exhilarated creation, our enthusiasm may turn to mud. From my own experiences with tortured writing and those of my academic coaching and editing clients, I recommend the following six techniques, with credible rationales, to help you work more efficiently and write more productively.

1) Make Separate Files

As simplistic as it seems, start by making separate files for each part of the work—prefatory pages, introduction, chapters, sections, reference list, appendices. Refer to your university handbook, journal specs, or publisher’s requirements to construct your file in the correct format. If a template is provided, use it. Later, you’ll combine all files for the finished work. [Read more…]

[Featured Members] Finding, chasing, and becoming rabbits: Learning from others on the road to the professoriate

Tracey Hodges and Katherine L. Wright

Tracey Hodges (L) and Katherine Wright (R)

TAA’s featured member profiles generally feature veteran textbook and academic authors and industry experts. In this issue we are delighted to feature two recent doctoral-recipients-turned-assistant-professors.

Tracey S. Hodges is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where she teaches graduate and undergraduate literacy courses. In addition, Tracey conducts research focusing on writing strategies, instruction with text structures, and content area literacy.

Katherine L. Wright is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University in the Department of Literacy, Language & Culture. Her research interests include reading and writing motivation, second language content-area literacy, writing-to-learn, and scientific literacy development. [Read more…]

Register early for TAA’s Textbook & Academic Writing Conference

fbregopenLooking for inspiration with your writing? Join us for TAA’s 30th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, June 9-10, 2017. Early registration is now open!

Learn from industry experts, gain new perspectives, and get inspired for your writing projects. All conference activities will take place at the beautiful Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel, a 4-Star luxury hotel located in the heart of Providence. The recently renovated boutique hotel is housed in a historic 1920’s era building, providing a one-of-a-kind backdrop for a memorable conference and visit! [Read more…]

Two more types of university friends you may have never thought of (part 2)

Don't be reticent in contacting fellow students and former professors.If you’re a graduate student struggling with your dissertation, you probably crave at least a few people who really understand and can help you get through the long and torturous journey. Many dissertation writers have confided to me as their editor and coach that their chairs and committee members, unfortunately, may not be the most supportive or nurturing. In Part 1 of this series, I recommended two types of individuals you may not have thought of who can be immense help: librarians and secretaries. Here I’ll suggest two more. [Read more…]

9 Ways to improve your academic writing style

writingWhen it comes to academia, the quality of your writing has a lot riding on it. Whether you are in university or are employed as a teacher and/or researcher, the work you produce can make or break your academic career.

Strong writing (and empirical content, of course) is a major factor in whether a paper you write will be published in a reputable journal. So before you begin drafting your next article, consider these 9 ways to improve your academic writing. [Read more…]