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

For academics: What to do when your partner wails, ‘I never see you anymore!’

Work Life BalanceWhen you’re furrowed-brow deep in your academic project, and your partner suddenly blurts out “I never see you anymore!” it’s time to stop, look, and close your computer. After such outbursts, many of my academic clients with partners in my coaching and editing practice have found ways to manage the complaints and restore a harmonious home. Here are some of the major methods clients have used as they pursue the (successful) productions of articles, presentations, chapters for a volume, and dissertations. [Read more…]

Harness the power of habits for writing productivity

Have you ever heard a writer say – I’d really like to break my pesky writing habit? Likely not. Writers generally agree that writing habits work: Momentum drives progress. Each day becomes easier to overcome resistance and start producing. Additionally, with regular progress, planning becomes more predictable.

Surprisingly though, despite motivation, as writers, we often know markedly little about research in habit building. In lieu of research, unhelpful myths circulate, such as: If I could just write for 21 straight days, then my habit would be in place. Thankfully, there is worthwhile research on habit building, so let’s look at a few key principles and the framework underlying any habit.  [Read more…]

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…]

Join us 2/22 for the TAA webinar, ‘Tips and Techniques for Enhancing Your Approach to Visuals’

Bethann Garramon MerkleToo often incorporating images isn’t part of our initial project planning, if it is ever part of the planning at all. Join us Wednesday, February 22 at 1-2 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, “Tips and Techniques for Enhancing Your Approach to Visuals.” Author and illustrator Bethann Garramon Merkle will share tips and hands-on techniques for enhancing your approach to visuals by using illustrations in publications and presentations. [Read more…]

Join us 1/25 for the TAA webinar, ‘Six Strategies for Using Social Media to Promote Your Writing’

Janet SalmonsYou can spend (and waste!) a lot of time on blogs and social media. Be strategic and use these tools to complement your academic writing, textbook authoring, and related consulting services.

Join us  p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Six Strategies for Using Social Media to Promote Your Writing,” when writer and blogger Janet Salmons will share six ways you can use blogs and social media, including: developing credibility, building a network, reaching new readers, sharing resources, encouraging textbook adoption, and disseminating findings outside of academia. She will help you evaluate whether you should start your own blog, page, or group, or contribute as a guest.
[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…]

New spring 2017 TAA webinars – Improve your skills

TAA fall webinar seriesWhether you are interested in learning how to use social media to promote your writing, enhancing your approach to visuals, creating instructional media on a budget, writing and developing a college textbook, or creating ancillary materials and companion websites, TAA’s spring webinar series for textbook and academic authors has you covered. Join us as various industry experts share their expertise on academic and textbook writing topics. Sign-up early to reserve your spot! Not a TAA member? Learn more about member benefits and join today. [Read more…]