The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: June 15, 2018

"It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way." ~Ernest HemingwayThis week’s collection of posts begins with articles focused on some of the writing challenges you may face – literature reviews, projects lost to life, grant application development, and other barriers that stop the publishing process at times. It continues with advice on writing with purpose, publishing for impact, transparency in peer review processes, surviving the doctoral defense process, and ways to maintain your mental health when making academic moves. We close with some insight into the impact of journal growth on impact factor, an open study on academic writing practices, and a look at how Google may be a journal publisher.

Ernest Hemingway said “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Whether you are learning with us this week at the TAA Conference, currently enrolled in a graduate program, or simply continuing to improve your writing craft through self-study and daily experience, write like you were born that way!

Why is writing a literature review such hard work? Part one

When you work with literatures and write your “review”, you are doing very difficult conceptual and authoring work – you are extending and consolidating at least six domains of knowledge. Yes, six. They are:

Keeping writing projects alive

Has this happened to you? You have brilliant insights and are raring to go on the new writing project, then life happens. The project slips to the bottom of the pile, then you move it off your desk altogether. One day something happens that triggers your memory: oh yeah, I was writing on that topic…where is that file?

Laying the research groundwork

Most grants teams are fabulous and want to help you submit strong applications to those competitive funding rounds. However, it’s often neither their job nor do they have the capacity to get you to the project grant application starting block with a red-hot project and a team ready to go.

What’s stopped you from publishing?

Beth L. Hewett gives advice for making the most of summer to write those scholarly articles, book chapters and books that you promised yourself you’d write.

Write with purpose, publish for impact

hen we put our thoughts into writing and publish them, we tell the world something about who we are. We move beyond circles of people who know us — colleagues and friends– to reach readers we will never meet. They learn about us from the choices reflected in our writing. What messages do you want to convey to your readers?

Greater transparency in peer review standards and practices – A report on work in progress

It is somewhat perplexing that a practice both central to our claim to distinctive authority as publishers, and implemented by all of us, does not have clearer, more public standards — or a way of sharing with readers how those standards have been applied. This seems like a first-order problem, especially in a moment in which the value of scholarship itself — and the knowledge it sets forth — are increasingly relativized or simply dismissed.

The dreaded doctoral defense

Most universities in the United States require a final doctoral defense of your precious work, although the procedures and formats may different from those in other countries. In the U.S., the advisory committee you’ve had a love-hate relationship with throughout your dissertation constitutes your defense committee as well. In other countries, the defense may be conducted with a blind peer review process (Australia) or as a viva (U.K.). For most students, though, it’s still a one-to-three-hour torture.

On the road again

As an academic, moving is an occupational hazard. Almost every academic I know has moved at least once in their career. Some have moved states to do their PhDs, others have moved countries for postdocs. Some have moved to big cities for promotions, others have moved to small towns for tenure.  Moving allows us to collaborate with new people, develop new skills, and explore new ideas. And, depending on where you end up, it can make for holidays in some pretty cool destinations!

Overseas or interstate moves, however, are not for the faint-hearted. If you’re contemplating making a move, here are my Top 10 Tips for making it there without sacrificing your physical or mental health.

Journal growth lowers impact factor

For most journals, in most fields, papers tend to receive fewer citations in their second year of publication compared to their third. Consequently, if a journal grows, its JIF calculation becomes unbalanced with a larger group of underperforming 2-year old papers and a relatively smaller group of 3-year old papers. The overall result is a decline the JIF score. Conversely, a journal that shrinks can expect an artificial boost in its JIF, all other factors remaining the same.

Why we’re studying academic writing practice and how you can help

We’ve just launched a major study into academic writing practice. It’s research that we hope will give anyone who needs to write evidence-based guidance on how to develop a writing system that works for them. Here’s why we’re doing it and what’s involved.

Has Google become a journal publisher?

Is Distill an academic research journal? In certain respects, yes. Are there conflicts of interest in its authorship, editorship, and ownership elements? It looks like it, which means the answer is yes. Is Google now a media company? Many would assert, myself included, that it has been for a long time and is skating by on a technicality perpetuated by out-of-touch regulators and legislators in the US.