The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: May 25, 2018

"That isn't writing at all, it's typing." ~Truman CapoteThis week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with advice and perspectives on research cases, grant applications, using figures in your papers, and developing a strategic publication plan for your research. We then explore changes and challenges in academia including a look at the modern day scholar and mixed methods research. Finally, we see industry changes in library subscriptions, the school publishing industry, open access, and textbook distribution models.

Truman Capote once said, “That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing.” Whether you are writing or typing, continue to find ways to get your ideas onto paper this week.

A case for teaching methods

Unlike journal articles, research cases describe decision-making, and in-the-moment course corrections when the pristine research design encounters the muddy real world. Use the tips below to design active-learning assignments with cases that enable students to prepare for their own research experiences.

Choosing the unicorns – An ECR’s perspective on grant reviews

The other day, I read the guest blog on Research Whisperer by Adam Micolich about capturing unicorns, a.k.a landing your first successful grant application. I found it really helpful for early career researchers such as myself, and wanted to offer another perspective on the funding process: that of a grants reviewer.

Figures: reasons & reasoning

Figures are important elements for your papers, articles or presentations, chapters or books so learning how to create and use them is essential for academic writers. This series of posts explores ways to think about and develop figures that will complement your academic writing. Make sure to look at guidelines and parameters from your publisher, and discuss the number, style, format of figures with your editor.

Publishing from the PhD – make a publication plan

The thing about publishing from the PhD is that you want to get your key results out into the right places. You want to be known for a something substantial. You want to stake your claim to be someone you want to hear on a particular topic. You want your research to make a difference. Now this means writing strategically – writing for those who need to read your work.

The ghost of the ideal scholar

If there is one PhD requirement that translates across all disciplines, it’s the need to read HEAPS. When I started my PhD, I was shocked by the sheer scale of the reading endeavour. Every time I felt like I was getting on top of it, I’d discover still more. Yet, the PhD stands out as the time in my life where I was able to read at the level that a scholar needs to read to be truly informed on a topic. I am not so sure PhD students can really achieve this aim today.

Preparing for the unexpected in mixed methods research

It is with great expectation that mounting attention is being given to mixed methods research (MMR). The utilization of various methods – a combination of those that focus on the quantity of something (i.e., quantitative methods) along with ways to explore the quality of something (i.e., any number of qualitative methods and techniques) – holds the promise of “richer,” more encompassing research solutions that go beyond the one-sided mono-method design alternative.

Struggles in academia

Earlier this year, I ran a poll on Twitter to see what fellow academics struggle most with. The winning category in the poll was “prioritizing and distractions”, but “writing” and “funding” also got a fair share of votes. Additionally, some mentioned the precarious employment in academia as their main difficulty.

Are library subscriptions over-utilized?

No library is able to buy or license all of the content that would be useful to its community of users; most regularly find their buying power declining as their budgets do not keep pace with inflation much less price increases beyond that. Thus, the challenge facing librarians is not how to spend increasing amounts of money on increasing amounts of content but rather how to spend decreasing amounts of money as effectively as possible. In reality, for many librarians, the task at hand is what to cancel.

The “creative destruction” of the American school publishing industry

So, is that it?  Are we simply seeing the modern driving out the old, and good riddance?  I’m not so sure.  Perhaps I am simply old fashioned and need to be ushered out the door along with the old-line publishers.  But I see another model, one I much prefer, and it has been around a long time.

Libraries face a future of open access

If the libraries win and the big publishers are brought to their knees, will we see Sci-Hub and other such sites begin to embrace “library values” — that is, the suite of practices intended to enhance the life-cycle of scholarly communications? Over the long term, how do you feel about a commercial organization like ResearchGate when it comes to end-users’ privacy? When you outsource full text, what do you hold onto?

FlatWorld returns to its roots

Founded in 2007 by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad, FlatWorld Knowledge was intended to combat the high cost of college textbooks by publishing low-cost, quality educational materials, often in digital formats. Over the years, however, the company shifted from its original plans in the textbook market to focus on other educational materials offering higher margins. In 2016, the company was acquired by Alastair Adam and John Eielson, two information publishing entrepreneurs who returned FlatWorld to its original concept of providing students access to high-quality textbooks at low prices.

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