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…]

Join us 11/18 for the TAA webinar ‘Becoming a Productive Writer: Strategies for Success’

Rachael CayleyWhy does it seem like there’s never enough time to write? One of the key challenges of academic life is balancing the many demands on our time; while writing is generally key to professional success, finding time to write is consistently challenging. Most academics realize that they need to protect their writing time but still struggle to do so. Rather than seeing not-writing as a simple failure, it can be helpful to see it as a reflection of the inherent difficulties of writing and time management.

Join us Friday, November 18 from 12-1 p.m. ET for the TAA webinar, “Becoming a Productive Writer: Strategies for Success,” where presenter Rachael Cayley, who blogs at Explorations of Style and tweets at @explorstyle, will discuss how and why academic writing is so hard and look at some strategies for establishing a productive writing practice.
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Two types of university friends you may have never thought of (part 1)

librarianGraduate students on the road to doctoral Oz often feel more isolated than a vegetarian at a barbecue. Especially if you have a laissez faire chair and committee, you may believe you’re abandoned and unloved. You’re not. In my work as editor and coach for struggling dissertation-writing students, I know well that many other people in the university community can comfort, calm, and care for you. Here I’ll remind you of two types who can help ease your dissertation traumas. (Next post: two more.)

Librarians Love You  

Even in this age of access to many online databases, librarians can help you greatly as you plow through the dissertation. Once you recognize the immense resources at their keypads, you can enlist their aid to save yourself time, effort, and digital runarounds. [Read more…]

Join us 11/3 for the TAA webinar, ‘Plan, Propose & Publish an Edited Book’

Janet SalmonsWant to publish a book, but lack the content for a full manuscript? Consider creating an edited book! You can include your own material, as well as chapters by other scholars.

Join us Thursday, November 3 from 3-4 p.m. ET for this one-hour webinar, “Plan, Propose & Publish an Edited Book”. Writer and editor Janet Salmons will share strategies she learned by creating edited books, contributing chapters to numerous edited books, and serving on editorial review boards. She will provide an overview of the entire process, from proposal through final review.
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Three new writing templates added to TAA’s Templates & Samples Resource Library

Templates and SamplesThree new templates have been added to TAA’s Templates & Samples Resource Library – a grant requirements matrix template and writing collaboration planning and progress templates.

The grant requirements matrix template was contributed by Erin Comeaux, a grants coordinator with Pasadena ISD, and Jennifer Travis, a professor of mathematics at Lone Star College-North Harris, who use it to keep track of each grant requirement, as well as the solicition/RFP page number or URL, paragraph number or URL, and who is responsible for drafting each requirement, to make sure all the grant’s instructions are being followed. [Read more…]

9 Questions to help you discover your writing working preferences

Your Working EnvironmentIt’s hard enough to start, much less continue, our writing, scholarly or otherwise. When we ask ourselves some important questions and act on the answers, we can more easily sneak up on the current project and get started.

The questions and answers are completely between us and us, and we have the best and only answers. Whatever other advice we’ve read or heard, however loudly others swear theirs is the only way, it’s our answers to ourselves that matter.

For my own writing and that of the dissertation- and article-producing clients I coach, I’ve found the following questions are the most crucial and tell us what we need to know about our working preferences. Answer the questions below and others that may arise to diagnose your perfect work environment. [Read more…]

Learn how to respond to reviewer feedback
Join us 10/27 for TAA webinar on manuscript review in the humanities

Katie Van HeestAfter peer review but before publication, even the best manuscripts typically require revision. When you are faced with readers’ reports, it’s key to understand clearly the feedback you’ve been given and then to proceed in a way that responds adequately while making the most of your time and retaining the core intentions of your work.

Join us Thursday, October 27, from 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA Webinar, “Manuscript Review in the Humanities: Embrace Criticism and Stand Up For Your Ideas,” led by Katie Van Heest, PhD, of Tweed Editing, where you will learn how to respond to reviewer feedback on journal articles and book manuscripts. [Read more…]

Take breaks before you’re broken

Break timeThe obsession with work seems embedded not only into our current civilization but also into academic pursuits. We are all focused, dedicated, committed, even driven in our scholarly work. We live, breathe, almost eat our work, or always eat while we work.

You may have noticed that many scholars self-righteously announce (I too am guilty), “Oh, I work all the time. Of course, I work every weekend.” Our working compulsion may be motivated by any number of worries. A few—the lurking impostor syndrome, feeling that time is running out, others’ propagating vitae, some upstart new PhD on our heels, tenure just beyond our grasp.

But working all the time has a price. Often an unsettling sense creeps in, something like discontent, dissatisfaction, weariness, frustration, restlessness, and even futility. This is a warning sign that, most often, you’ve lost perspective. You need a break. [Read more…]

What can you learn from learning centers?

writing centerWhen you’re writing your dissertation, in its grip you’re probably on the lookout for any resource that holds out the slightest smidgen of help and solace. One of these is learning centers, or writing centers, as they are often called. Learning centers constitute one of those university auxiliary supports that espouse noble goals. They aim to help the graduate student get through that dread writing and do it right. They sound good, with individual tutors who lovingly go over your work and spruce it up.

In my work as an academic coach and editor primarily assisting doctoral students, many have told me of the problems and splendors of learning centers. If you are wondering about the value of learning centers, perhaps my observations will help and save you the time you should be devoting to your Chapter 5. [Read more…]

5 Web tools to help you manage and organize citations

citationsWhen it comes to academic writing, it is important to be diligent about collecting and organizing sources that will support your statements. The success of the overall project is often determined by the organizational skills you show during the research stage, and if you lose track of the sources of your ideas, you may also end up inadvertently committing plagiarism.

The following five tools can help you manage your sources and organize citations in accordance with whichever citation format you follow. [Read more…]