The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: March 30, 2018
We begin this week’s collection of textbook & academic posts from around the web with a royalty calculation update from Cengage as it relates to their Cengage Unlimited service. We then have several articles of interest to textbook authors and faculty considering OER textbook options. Finally, we found advice for academic writers on structuring papers, coping with peer review processes, and being scholar-activists.
Chris Almeida put it best when he said, “The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one.” As you write this week, we hope the end of March brings with it some finished work, and the start of April brings with it new beginnings in your writing.
We understand that our authors want as much detail as possible to alleviate any unease you are feeling about this new model. While we cannot make any guarantees of future performance, we are confident that Cengage Unlimited provides us the opportunity to halt the year over year declines that we’ve seen in textbook sales revenue. Given that author payments are directly linked to revenue, we expect that this will positively impact our royalty payments as well.
I’ve never heard a student or professor complain that a book didn’t cost enough. Complaints about textbook costs have been around at least since the 80’s, and probably before that I know because I remember making them myself. And yet, adoption of OER has been slower than many of us had hoped.
Anyone who teaches at the postsecondary level knows that among students’ most common complaints is the high cost of textbooks. Indeed, at some colleges, textbook cost is contentious enough to warrant a special question on course evaluations. While there was little one could do about textbook cost in a pre-digital era, with digital books now widely available, theoretically, textbooks could be free or nearly free for all students, but they are not.
For years, Stephanie Anagnoson worked in academic publishing. But it wasn’t until her current gig, serving as an instructor for a course on water supply and demand in California, that she got her feet wet with open educational resources.
What is academic writing? If you want to succeed in your own writing at university or college, you need to have a clear understanding what academic writing is. You have to know the main features, principles, and structural elements of any academic writing, which you’re going to work on.
Conventional forms of academic writing in English also require an MC. In the case of academic writing, this MC is the Meta Commentary. Just like any other emcee, the Meta Commentary has to let the reader know what is coming up, tell them what they need to know and will be interested in, and keep them interested. They steer the reader’s understanding. Just like any other emcee, the #acwri equivalent also has to perform a finely judged balancing act of being present without being too obvious and tiresome.
While fiction writers have a special dispensation to scatter sentence fragments and comma splices throughout their ripping yarns, writers of academic prose are held to higher standards. Examiners of theses and reviewers of journal articles expect to see punctuation in the ‘right’ places; that is, correctly deployed according to the current conventions of formal writing.
I am currently waiting for peer reviews of two books I’ve worked on: one sole-authored, one co-authored. We don’t talk much about the experience of waiting for reviews, and it’s not something that appears to have been researched. Yet it’s something everyone doing academic work has to go through and it may be bad for our mental health.
What does it mean for me to be a scholar-activist? (Thanks for asking.) It means, based on my understanding and experience, that I have one foot in the academy or academe and one foot in Chicana/o-Latina/o communities. It means being a bridge between these asymmetric spaces: institutions of higher education and racialized/working-class communities. It means for the former, with its privileged members, to serve the latter — not vice versa, as is the norm.