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The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: March 16, 2018

"I haven't finished writing my book, but it's on top of my list" ~Celeste Alexander“I haven’t finished writing my book, but it’s on top of my list” says Celeste Alexander. If you’re struggling with finishing a writing project, our first couple articles in this week’s collection of posts from around the web might help you find the means to move forward. Of course, according to our third article choice, “you should be writing!” and the shame that accompanies this rebuke are worthy of consideration as well.

In addition, we have found insight into word choice, the use of preprints in citations, theoretical frameworks, and peer review processes to support your writing efforts. Finally we round out our collection this week with two service platforms: DeepDyve and Skyepack that pursuer ways to reduce costs of journal articles and educational materials. Wherever your writing projects take you this week, we hope you feel a sense of accomplishment, even if you haven’t “finished”.

Six academic writing habits that boost productivity

Today, many academics feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. They’re under huge pressure to write and publish but an ever-growing mountain of teaching and admin is stopping them doing just that. Our research finds that whilst nobody is immune to these pressures, some academics cope better than others – and that’s because over the years, they’ve developed personal “systems” to help them write.

Being efficient

Efficiency is something that can come and go during your PhD. It’s normal to have a few weeks buzzing with productivity, and then weeks where you barely seem to cross more than one task off of your to-do list. ChengCheng talks about her struggles with maintaining efficiency in her research and the methods that have helped her to maintain a regular work pattern…

Debunking the shame in ‘You should be writing!’

This popular tongue-in-cheek rebuke has been a humorous, if not a durable universal higher educational meme, familiar among graduate student researchers, academic faculty, and other writers. It softly shames us for engaging in activities unrelated to advancing and publishing our research–namely, the laborious and intensive writing part. Oh, the indignity of us partaking in something other than our scholarly writing!

Precision with word choice in doctoral writing

In the latest doctoral writing group, we blitzed words that were the cause of inaccuracy, often because the tone they added was too informal. This post gives our list of words that are treacherous. We welcome comments or offers of posts that identify more words that might be tricky. Here are words that we think should be used with caution by doctoral writers.

Preprints and citations: Should non-peer reviewed material be included in article references?

While the use of preprints (public posting of an early draft of a paper before it’s submitted to a journal for formal review) has long been established in fields like physics and the social sciences, recent uptake in the biomedical world has raised some concerns. When clinical treatment and public health are involved, extra care must be taken to ensure that it is clear to the reader that the work being described has not been peer reviewed. Most preprint servers handle this well, watermarking their preprints and clearly labeling them as preliminary. But little thought seems to have been given to how we cite preprints. Should we treat them the same way that we treat reviewed and published material?

Writing the thesis – the theoretical framework

Not every thesis has a section or chapter devoted to a theoretical framework. But a lot do. (It’s the Ph in PhD after all.) And these ‘theory chapters’ can be very tricky to write – and are often tricky for the examiner to read. Before starting to write your theory section/chapter it can be good to think about what the examiner wants to see.

Peer review fails to prevent publication of paper with unsupported claims about peer review

While there is a steady stream of journal articles criticizing peer review, a recent publication, “Comparing published scientific journal articles to their pre-print versions”, has a number of major problems. It’s perhaps ironic that a paper finding no value in peer review is so flawed that its conclusions are untenable, yet its publication in a journal is itself an indictment of peer review.

Oxford University Press extends partnership with DeepDyve

DeepDyve and Oxford University Press today announced that Oxford University Press (OUP) has agreed to make over 400 journals available via DeepDyve’s innovative scholarly journal rental platform. The collaboration follows a successful pilot program dating back to 2012 whereby OUP made a subset of its titles available via DeepDyve.

Skyepack harnesses Open Educational Resources to offer college course material to students for just $35

While traditional textbook publishers have been hiking their costs in recent years, a Purdue-affiliated company is changing that story. Skyepack works with professors to curate their educational material for their course. With the help of open educational resources, they aim to provide it to students for just $35.