The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: March 13, 2015

I’m excited for a few reasons this week. You fail only if you stop writing.First, spring-like temperatures have arrived and stuck around for multiple days. (Woot!) Second, this week’s most useful post is jam-packed with articles I think you’ll enjoy. Topics range from knockoff rating companies to massive open online courses (MOOCs). Third, I found this great quote by Ray Bradbury, “you fail only if you stop writing,” that I couldn’t wait to share with you all. This quote is so simple, yet so powerful.

We all define success differently but ultimately failure, that is no longer writing, is the same. If one journal or publisher rejects your writing, you don’t stop writing, you either tweak what you have, find a better fit, or start on another project. You haven’t failed until the moment you stop writing. In a bicycle race you haven’t failed unless you stop pedaling. Of course not everything we write is worthy of being called a masterpiece, but I don’t think that just because a piece of writing isn’t our best that it should be considered a failure. Isn’t it by writing and rewriting that we discover those masterpieces?

Happy writing!

Knockoffs Erode Trust in Metrics Market
First there was the predatory journal; now there are knockoff impact rating companies. This article examines how predatory publishers and knockoff impact rating companies have impacted academia and the trust that has been broken with the system.

Learning From MOOCs
I’ve included this piece because for many of you teaching is a large part of what you do on a daily basis. Hopefully you’ll find the takeaways helpful or reinforce how you already try to teach.

The 3 Essential Functions of Your Syllabus, Part 1
Again, because teaching is such a large part of your life, I’ve included an article on essential functions of your syllabus. Of course you probably won’t have to think about your syllabus for months, unless you teach a summer course, so tuck this article away in a safe place for when you do.

Four reasons to feel good about the future of peer review
Here, Eric Hall, explores four reasons to feel good about the future of peer review. Which do you find to be the most promising?

Slow Reading
This is a wonderful, and beautifully written, piece on the relationship slow reading and writing have. Michael Lambek ponders what kind of writing can be expected when we no longer read to, or for, ourselves.

thesis know-how – let participants ‘speak for themselves’?
For anyone writing a thesis that involves including participants’ words, this is a must read. Pat Thomson gives an in-depth look at how thesis writers often over-use participants’ words and how to overcome doing so to make your thesis better.

5 Big Ways Education Will Change By 2020
Will these predictions come true in 2020? What predictions do you have for how education (learning materials, textbooks, teaching methods) will change?

On “Thesising.” Or, Academic Privilege.
If you are in the depths of writing a thesis and need a breath of fresh air, this article may be your answer. It’s a reminder that pursing your goal in academia is a privilege, not a burden. That even though thesis writing is incredibly hard, being able to dedicate all (or most) of your time to it is something that should be cherished.

Weekly Wisdom: Brought to you by the Letter D
Short, to the point, and motivational—without giving too much away—‘D’ is for determination.

Why Chegg Is Abandoning A Business Worth Over $200 Million A Year
This is your industry news piece for the week. Chegg, a company that rents textbooks to students, is going digital and ditching the physical book. Last year Chegg generated more than $213 million in revenue renting textbooks to college students, but CEO Dan Rosensweig wants that number to be closer to zero.