Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 18, 2020

How do you get things done? When it comes to academic writing there is no shortage of strategy advice available to authors, but there are also no shortcuts either. As Larry L. King stated, “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” In this week’s collection of articles from around the web we found some helpful resources for accomplishing all three of these fundamental practices in the pursuit of your publishing goals.

Beginning with topics of project management and daily writing practice, you must be writing and rewriting to move projects forward. That writing takes reading – and we have advice on how to stay focused while reading scholarly articles. Next we have writing tips from some famous writers and suggestions for writing under deadlines. Addressing some current issues in academic writing, we turn our attention to part-time PhD pursuits, research practices during Covid-19, gaps in academic communication, diversity, inclusion, and equity strategies, and an equitable transition to open access publishing models. We close the collection with information on how American Journal Experts (AJE) partners with the Researcher app to produce a new form of author services.

As you explore the strategies and resources available to improve your textbook and writing practice this week, remember there are no shortcuts. Write. Rewrite. Read. Repeat. Happy writing!

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“Write Every Day!” Is it realistic?

There is a lot of writing advice from many sources; much of it great. “Make time to write every day” is a common thread. I have suggested myself. But is it possible? There is no shortage of items vying for your time: work, grades, committee meetings, office hours, social media, kids, chores, life! How can […]

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Flag for follow up or dump the junk?

Are you overwhelmed by email? I know there are days that the flow of electronic information seems to be non-stop. I might not be the normal person though – but I also can’t imagine I’m the only academic who is managing more than one email account for various roles. I personally check with regularity five (yes, five) email accounts daily between my personal Gmail account, accounts for my adjunct teaching roles, and my full-time position with TAA.

Even after the SPAM filters and categorization tools inherent to the systems do their job of minimizing the amount of true “junk” that makes it through to my inbox, I am often interacting with upwards of 300-400 messages of some importance daily. So I wonder often, am I handling things effectively while trying to manage all of this electronic communication?

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Summer 2020 TAA Writing Gym receives high marks, praise

Eighty authors participated in TAA’s six-week Summer 2020 Writing Gym, which was held July 20-August 31. The gym included templates for tracking writing time and developing a six-week workout plan, TAA Writing Gym-branded writing journal, weekly inspirational emails, 6 on-demand writing classes, several writing stations that allowed participants to target specific writing areas, and a Facebook Group for networking with other gym members.

In a survey sent out after the close of the summer gym, the majority of respondents gave the gym 5 stars, and rated features like the Facebook Group and Writing Classes as Very High Quality or Quality. “I loved the writing gym. It helped me get on track with my writing. The videos and short articles helped me with goal setting, organization, writing tips, etc. I highly recommend participating in the writing gym,” said Leslie Koberna. The majority of respondents said they averaged 2-4 days per week of writing while participating in the gym. Said Koberna: “Most of the time, I averaged 4 days a week, but the last two weeks I worked 6 days a week on my writing:).”

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What academics need to know about writing for a trade audience

While the books I represent generally are for a trade audience, and are available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and independent bookstores, a number of my authors are academicians, and also have written for more academic audiences. Very often, that is how their book career began. Today, more categories, such as neuroscience, education, learning, botany, history, and more, are crossing over from academic/textbook to trade, as those authors are able to reframe their material or generate a new spin for an alternate receptive audience.

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Nominations for the 2021 Textbook Awards now open

Nominations for the 2021 Textbook Excellence Award (“Texty”), McGuffey Longevity Award (“McGuffey”), and Most Promising New Textbook Award, will be open September 1 to November 1.

For more than 20 years, TAA has supported textbook and academic authors through these highly-recognized awards, given annually to emerging and veteran published authors in eight subject categories.

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Reflecting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our publications

I’ll never forget that encounter I had with Kathy a number of years ago. Kathy and I are friends now, but I’d never met her before that moment when she introduced herself at our annual anatomy and physiology (A&P) teaching conference. She asked if I had a moment to chat about how illustrations are chosen for textbooks. As you can imagine, I love talking about the process of creating textbooks, so we stepped aside for a quick chat.

It turns out that she was chatting up as many A&P textbook authors as she could, including a few other TAA members, with a question that stemmed from her interest in diversity issues. Kathy wanted to know about the illustration process because she wanted to know why women and other groups were underrepresented.

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Dragging your dissertation feet?

Is your dissertation dragging you down? Are you dragging your feet, your manuscript in sorry tow behind you like an annoying younger brother? Are you doing the impossible already—on campus or online, like many other graduate students juggling family, work, and school? Your academic struggles are intensified by the stresses of such multiple responsibilities and, possibly, loss of your long-range picture.

From what I’ve learned and observed as a longtime coach of graduate students and writer of creative projects, here I address some issues that can trip you up. And I share some steadying remedies so you handle your dissertation and other creative projects with less dragging and more speed and even enthusiasm.

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5 Tips for strengthening your qualitative research and writing

Qualitative research methods allow investigators to go beyond merely counting how often something occurs or with how many individuals. Rather, they provide insights in to how or why certain actions are taken or the ways in which people interact with or interpret their lived experiences. This added richness can be critical to forming effective interventions to create behavior change, which is common in not just health and medicine but educational practice as well. Yet, many researchers are hesitant to journey into qualitative research beyond a few open-ended survey questions, due to concerns about qualitative research lacking the rigor and validity of quantitative studies. Although there are many approaches to qualitative research and the accepted norms for conducting and writing up this type of research can vary according to your academic discipline, the following five tips can help provide a solid foundation for starting your qualitative journey.

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The power of systematic checklists: Saving time, uncovering Easter eggs, and preventing overload

It’s 8:30 a.m.

Time to refill my mug of tea, revive my computer, and work on the ol’ textbook. I know I have a lot to do, but I feel good … at first. Then I catch a glimpse of my bloated task list and I’m immediately discouraged.

Let’s see. I still haven’t finished the manuscript for the sixth and final unit. The copyeditor is already sending batches of early chapters for my approval, the artists need corrections on drafts of new figures, the designer wants a decision on the cover photo, and a professor who uses my current edition wants more coverage of tardigrades. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I also have classes to teach, meetings to attend, and personal responsibilities that I can’t abandon. Suddenly, I’m in a tizzy.

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