From the other side of the draft

draftI generally empathize with beleaguered graduate students who are wrestling with their dissertations. Most doctoral candidates seem to get little support from their chairs in guidance, writing, or cheering on. However, exceptions exist . . . .

A student recently sent me a heartfelt communication from a chair to his dissertation group. This chair, unlike many others, held bimonthly meetings with his students in the throes of their dissertations or gingerly approaching them. I was impressed by the forthrightness of this professor and the caring he showed in insisting that his students measure up. The chair—I’ll name him Professor Bellows—shared several important “gripes” we can all learn from. [Read more…]

Your dissertation coach: Your personal academic trainer

Your coach helps you bite off manageable tasks in realistic timeframes.My joyful livelihood for three decades has been as a coach and editor for doctoral candidates in all aspects of their dissertations. So I warn you now—I am partisan. That said, here I’ll describe the (best) duties and functions of a coach, with the basic distinctions too about editing.

Some universities positively ban dissertation coaches and editors, some graze the subject with tacit acceptance, some sanction certain types of editing and not others (such as light or medium editing; see below), and others almost require them. Depending on students’ academic skills and confidence, they adhere to or ignore such strictures. The coach/editor shouldn’t be expected to write the little beauty but to guide students in organizing their thoughts and managing their lives so they can write. And be their cheerleader and ally. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: February 26, 2016

Print this quote and keep it next to where you write. This way, you will the first draft is nothing more than a starting pointalways be reminded, “The first draft is nothing more than a starting point,” as Andrew Stanton urges. You do not have to get the words out perfectly the first time; you just have to get them down. Remember, editing (and editing over and over again) exists for a reason! Below you’ll find excellent articles from around the web this past week. From the future of textbooks to how to get your first academic paper published, and so much in-between, I know you’ll find an article that is useful to you. And, as always, happy writing! [Read more…]

Join us in San Antonio for TAA’s 29th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference!

San Antonio Riverwalk

Join us in San Antonio for TAA’s 2016 Conference!

Mark your calendars, the Textbook & Academic Authors Association’s 29th Annual Conference is fast approaching. Don’t miss out on this valuable two-day writing conference where you will gain inspiration for your writing projects, network with veteran authors, and learn strategies to help increase your publishing success. The conference program is ambitious, offering a wide variety of session topics for both veteran and novice authors. Register soon to take advantage of early registration rates. [Read more…]

How to ease into (and even enjoy) your dissertation writing

It always seems impossible until it's doneWe can’t deny it: writing your dissertation is hard. All that time you devote to research is a worthy endeavor but, no matter how many plums you’ve collected, at some point you know you’re stalling. In my longtime dissertation coaching and editing practice, I have witnessed, cautioned, and counseled many dissertation writers on the difficulties of the actual writing. Peter, a new doctoral candidate who came from the corporate world, confided, “I struggle daily with understanding the shift from business and occupational writing to writing as a researcher according to certain expectations and standards.” [Read more…]

8 [MORE!] Academic writing blogs you should be following

Are you ready for more great academic writing blogs to follow?! blog logoThe original, 8 Academic writing blogs you should be following, was so popular (and continues to be) it seemed fitting to bring you a second addition—not to mention the fact that the blogs below are worthy of being followed! In no particular order, here are eight academic writing blogs that offer superb advice on everything academic writing and publishing related, plus life as an academic: [Read more…]

How to prepare for your (shudder) doctoral dissertation defense

I am perfectly competent, confident, express, poised.Most universities require a final doctoral defense of your precious work. Almost everyone who has a doctorate has a final defense story. Often they are the worst horror stories one can imagine, short of a bedroom intruder, and emblazoned on the mind of the teller forever.

For example . . . A friend of mine was obviously pregnant at her defense. After she successfully passed, her chair, staring at her bulk, informed her with a tone of incontrovertibility that her entire graduate education had been a “waste.” Outrageous, I know. I’m very glad to say she proved the chair wrong. Later, with two kids, she became an award-winning professor at Brandeis. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: December 11, 2015

'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.' Eugene Ionesco This week brings an early Christmas present in the form of so many great articles on academic and textbook writing! Speaking of the gift-giving season, have you seen my Top 10 gift ideas for writers? Perhaps one of the greatest gifts family and friends can give you this time of year is a quiet space for you to write to keep your writing projects on track. Although that would be a great gift, it isn’t always possible with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. So what strategies do you use to find writing time during the holidays? Or, do you allow yourself to take a break from your writing?

As always, happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: October 30, 2015

November 1 is two short days away from being here. November is #AcWriMoSince 2011 when Charlotte Frost (Founder and Director of PhD2Published) created #AcBoWriMo, November has been a month long marathon for academic writers to declare their writing goals, write and share progress updates along the way, plus connect and encourage other academics all over the world also striving to reach their writing goals. Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo for short), as it is now called, is the perfect excuse to start a blog or Twitter account to share your goals and progress, to encourage others, and to receive support and encouragement as you write. Learn more about AcWriMo below. Will you be participating? If so, let me know in the comments and be sure to include your blog and Twitter links!

Happy writing! [Read more…]

10 Ways to tease out your perfect dissertation topic

You deserve the perfect dissertation topic, and you will reach your answer.If you’re beginning or in the throes of your dissertation, you may know from other long-suffering students that the work engenders a love-hate relationship, with all the exasperations, frustrations, teeth-clenching, and eye-rolling, and occasional affection, elation, and fulfillment (eventually) of a primary human relationship. Therefore, your topic, like your partner, should be one that initially excites you and sustains you throughout the inevitable rages and reconciliations, desires to divorce yourself from it or run back to its scholarly arms, and finally settle into a consistent satisfying relationship. [Read more…]