The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: February 16, 2018
Is writing your passion? As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, we look at some of the articles focused on ways to make what we love to do – textbook and academic writing – even better. Included in the list are ways to de-stuff your writing, appropriately incorporate illustrations, and combat isolation through peer writing groups. From a technical perspective, topics of quantitative set analysis, methodology, social bookmarking with reading lists, peer review processes, and Open Access also make the list of topics.
As you continue your writing efforts this week, reflect on the significance of your contribution and the love of writing that consumes your practice. As A.E. Croft put it, “Writing is my passion, not my job. I need to write as much as I need to breathe, if not more.”
Is your writing described as ‘wooly’, ‘waffle-y’, ‘soft’, ‘cluttered’, ‘baggy’, ‘windy’, ‘verbose’ or ‘muddy’? Do you have hundreds (or thousands) of words over your word count, but instead of half writing the next book, you just have loads of dead wood? Are you nervous about putting forward your ideas and so avoid saying directly, instead putting a pillow of nice, soft, careful, words between you and the reader? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your writing probably needs de-stuffing.
Quantitative text analysis, or QTA, is the automated, systematic method for processing large amounts of text. This means we can easily carry out tasks such as extracting policy positions from election manifestos or speeches, or even study attitudes or emotion in newspaper articles. The common focus across all methods used in QTA is that they can be reduced to three basic steps.
The good news is of course that if you avoid these mistakes, a well chosen and produced image, graph, table or diagram can be a very helpful aide to the examiner.
Some people think ‘methodology’ is just a posh word for ‘method’. This is a bit like how some people think ‘statistical significance’ is a more important version of ordinary everyday ‘significance’. As in, it’s completely wrong.
Reading Lists are a feature of the SAGE Research Methods library. This social bookmarking tool allows you to create and share lists of resources, including e-books or book chapters, articles, case studies, videos, or datasets. See how-to steps here, and an example here. If you teach research methods, or teach courses that depend on an understanding of research methods, or supervise students’ research, Reading Lists can help. Here are 5 suggestions.
When I grow up, I want to emulate those senior academics who seek to challenge research in a way that facilitates both academic and personal growth. They provide feedback that is honest, at times challenging, constructive, and enables the publication of better quality work. What is the point of critique that only shuts others’ thinking down?
Some of us do our best work alone and acquire sharp focus when we’re by ourselves, and that’s OK. But for other grad students who may be struggling with abject isolation that seems harmful to their wellbeing and their scholarly productivity, encouraging their participation in an active peer writing group can be anything but a waste of time.
Knowledge proceeds through communication, as one researcher builds upon (stands on the shoulders of) the work of others. Paywalls interfere with this sharing principle and thus slow down the pace of scientific discovery. OA will increase scientific communication and thereby accelerate scientific discovery.