The three biggest mistakes academic writers make

academic_mistakesI grew up in an academic family. When we would gather around the table at holidays, everyone but my bipolar aunt had a Ph.D. My ex-husband once told me he felt I needed to get a Ph.D. to be considered a grown-up by my family. So I know the culture. I am fluent in tenure and promotion, refereed articles and revise-and-resubmit, and the heaven and hell of the sabbatical and adjunct worlds.

As a creative writer and scholar who specializes in teaching mindfulness and writing as ways of dealing with chronic stress and healing from trauma, I bring my expertise in stress-reduction together with my personal experience of what it means to “be an academic.” I want to share with you some insights about the three biggest mistakes I see academic writers making. [Read more…]

Visual: 7 Basic components of a book proposal for an academic press

Unless you are an established author and have publishers soliciting manuscripts from you, you will likely have to submit a formal academic book proposal to an academic press.

Here Tanya Golash-Boza provides generic suggestions for what should go in an academic book proposal.

19 Tips for getting published in academia

The value of using social media to broaden your academic reach: An interview with Tanya Golash Boza

Tanya Golash-BozaTanya Golash-Boza, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She is widely published, with her academic works including academic and trade books, textbook chapters for edited volumes, and journal articles. Currently she is working on two primary projects, one being a book on the lives of people deported from the United States, and the second being a sociology textbook on race and racism. 

Golash-Boza has successfully utilized social media in her academic career for the past several years. She is the author of three popular blogs, including her academic blog entitled Get a Life, PhD, Weekly Tips on How to Succeed in Academia and Have a Life Too.

Here Golash-Boza shares her insights on the value of utilizing social media to broaden your academic reach. [Read more…]

How to cut the clutter from your writing

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “What techniques do you use to cut clutter, wordiness, jargon, etc. from your writing?”

A: Kim Pawlak, Associate Executive Director, TAA:

“I write my first draft without worrying about how long it is, and then I go through it again as if it has to be only X number of words. When you only have so much space to work with, it helps you weed out unnecessary words, phrases — and even paragraphs.” [Read more…]

Strategies for bringing your writing projects to completion, overcoming writer’s block, and managing your time

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “How do you bring your writing projects to completion? Do you write daily, in large blocks? What strategies do you use to overcome “writer’s block”? What have you done to improve your writing skills? How do you manage your time so that you find time for writing?”

A: Joan Carnosso RN, PhD(c), CCRN, Associate Professor, Nursing Department, Boise State University:

“I am new to authoring and writing for that matter. I am working on finishing my dissertation and it has been a struggle for me since I really never believed that I liked to write and I sure didn’t believe I was good at it. So I knew that I needed to do something to boost my confidence. I applied and got accepted to two workshops. One is Writing across the curriculum, and the other is the National Writing Project. Both of which are this summer. There is a great deal of reading and writing in both of these classes and much of the reading needed to be done before the projects start. So I just finished reading a GREAT book that I highly suggest to anyone. It is called “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. She is an author who writes about her experience with writing. She discusses all of the questions that you had. She suggests writing down things you want to write about. I started a journal (just a small notebook) and on one page have written down subjects that I could write about. My family, each one of my five children, mean girl syndrome, my childhood, my experiences with each one of my siblings. These are just examples, of course I would like to be a scholarly writer but first I must enhance my confidence with writing. So each morning I get up and I have files on my computer and I open up one and just start typing. I write at least 300 words doing that in a day. Then of course I need to spend time working on my dissertation. But let me tell you I am actually starting to enjoy writing. Every time I get the opportunity now to write I do. I have been writing letters to my friends, taking notes, journaling, writing every chance I get. I keep the little notebook with me and write down quotes I see or words I like. I write down the names of books I would like to read, etc. The National Writing Project and Lamotts book have been a huge influence on me.”

A: Andrew P. Johnson, Ph.D., Professor of Holistic Education, Department of Special Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato:

“Too many articles never get submitted because the writer is trying to get it just right — Believe me, no matter what you submit, the reviewers will have something to say. Use them to fine tune your article.”

Your dissertation as a journal article: Where do you submit it?

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I have an idea for an article based on my dissertation, but I don’t know where to send it. How can I make a reasonable choice?”

A: Tara Gray, presenter of the Publish & Flourish: Become A Prolific Author workshop, sponsored by TAA:

“Ask your colleagues and consider the journals in your own bibliography. Then, query the journal editor by asking him or her if your manuscript fits their understanding of the journal’s mission.”

A: Kären Hess, the author or co-author of more than 30 trade books and college-level textbooks on a variety of topics including financial planning, dental marketing, art, literature, engineering, hospice care, reading, management and report writing:

“Ask your dissertation committee. Do a search of your topic and see what journals come up.”

A: Michael Lennie, Authoring Attorney and Literary Agent, Lennie Literary and Authors’ Attorneys:

“Ask your advisor; or research similar articles to determine their publisher and editor. Obtain several and then contact them to see if they have an interest. The original contact should be by way of a query letter (one well written page) with or without synopsis, sent through snail mail with a SASE.”

A: Richard Hull. TAA Executive Director:

“First, consult with your dissertation adviser or other members of your committee. Second, consider the journals whose articles you cited most frequently in the article you propose. Third, do a literature search for the key words of your proposed article, and find where the most frequent citations occur. The other factor is the nature of what you propose to write. Is it an original article that diverts from standard positions taken in literature on your issue? Is it chiefly critical of others’ work? Is it short: a discussion note, focusing on a single experiment or argument? Different journals have different types of articles, so getting familiar with your field’s publications is the best way of fitting yourself into an appropriate niche.”

Make journal revisions efficiently to get published faster

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I probably will have to submit my article to several journals before it is accepted. Each of the ones I am likely to send it to has a different style for footnotes and references. How do I make revisions efficiently and not spend undue hours with trivia?”

A: Richard Hull, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy:

“There are excellent reference management software programs available. You type your references in once; subsequent revisions are often possible by simply giving the periodical’s name, or by providing a simple template that will, for example, cause first and middle names to be replaced by initials (followed or not followed by periods), journal volume numbers to be preceded or not preceded by “vol.”, the year of the publication to be placed just after the author’s name or after the volume number (surrounded or nor surrounded by parentheses), and so forth. End Note and Reference Manager are two common ones, and they are sometimes freely provided to faculty by their educational institution’s Instructional Technology centers.”

Tips to ensure your project is funded

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I need to write my first grant application. What are the elements I need to include to ensure that my project is funded?”

A: Elaine M. Hull, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Florida State University, and the recipient of 20 years of NIH funding, shares these basics tips for writing a proposal:

“1) The proposed research should answer an important question, have justification based on previous work and/or pilot data, and have a reasonable end point. Emphasize hypothesis testing, as opposed to a ‘fishing expedition.’ State how the outcome of the project will relate back to the ‘Big Issues’; 2) Present the idea clearly. Organize paragraphs and write in short, clear sentences. Anticipate potential questions and criticisms. A diagram is worth more than the space it takes up; 3) Don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s unusual to get funding from the NSF or NIH on the first try. Seek advice from a person in the grant agency or another expert in the field.”

A: Kären Hess, the author or co-author of more than 30 trade books and college-level textbooks on a variety of topics including financial planning, dental marketing, art, literature, engineering, hospice care, reading, management and report writing:

“Key is a worthwhile idea about which the proposal writer is passionate, carefully formulated with a good chance of success. If there is an RFP, follow the guidelines exactly. Research the foundation and match the proposal to their stated mission statement.

Include a cover letter, a cover page, table of contents, statement of needs (problem statement), proposed solution or program strategy, goals and objectives, how and by whom implemented, timeline, pricing, how evaluated, qualifications of those involved (some grantors request resumes of all key personnel) and references if applicable.

As with book proposals, presentation is critical — – the axiom you never get a second chance to make a first impression applies. Use a good printer and quality paper with a professionally appearing binder. Never submit a handwritten proposal.”