The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: July 13, 2018

"Words are a lens to focus one's mind." ~Ayn RandThis week’s collection of articles from around the web start with some writing motivation including the question “Have you started writing yet?” and the discussion of writing productivity through a daily writing habit. There is additional advice on how to get your manuscript submitted, proofreading tips, and developing diversity in your reference lists. We close our list with other topics of interest, including what cannot be said in academia, new tools for open access research, quality concerns related to OER, and one college’s efforts to save on textbook costs.

According to Ayn Rand, “Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” This week I encourage you to use your words, focus your mind, and move forward on your summer writing projects.

It’s July. Have you started writing yet?

For many academics, summer is traditionally associated with open stretches of time and ambitious writing agendas. Many of us put off writing articles and book proposals during the year in anticipation of all the free time we plan to have. As Beth L. Hewett wrote recently in Inside Higher Ed, “’tis the season for publishing,” and we can use these summer months to work more effectively with editors.

Should we really write daily?

The most cited work in the field of ‘academic writing productivity’ is that of Robert Boice from the 1990s. Boice’s research was innovative at the time but boiled down, it amounted to one simple scholarly nugget: whatever type of writer you are and whatever type of writing you do, do it daily. A regular, daily writing practice might be the gold standard but is it realistic? We decided to find out.

Not letting go of the text

In general, writing is high stakes academic work. We are judged on the apparent quality of our writing by examiners, referees and our institutions. So being concerned about how our writing will be seen has a firm and rational basis in the realities of academic life.

Disengage, re-engage: 13 tips for proofreading text you’ve already copy-edited

In the same way that an author can become blind to the errors in their own work through overfamiliarity, a copy-editor tends to lose that ‘edge’ that comes with seeing a text anew. Therefore, having a separate proofreader is usually the best strategy. However, there are various valid reasons that an editor might find themselves proofreading text they’ve already copy-edited.

Reference lists as sites of diversity? Citations matter.

Who we cite positions our work in a field. It aligns us with particular epistemologies and ontologies; ways of knowing and of ways of being. It can polarise us from others. In this blog post, Pat Thomson puts it this way: “Who cites who is not a neutral game.”

Academic taboos #1: what cannot be said

Academia is a community with conventions, customs, and no-go areas. These vary, to some extent, between disciplines. It seems, though, that some conventions exist across all disciplines. Perhaps the most interesting conventions are those around what cannot be said.

New tool for open-access research

A new search engine that aims to connect nonacademics with open-access research will be launched this fall. Get the Research will connect the public with 20 million open-access scholarly articles.

The evolution of educational publishing: Does OER have a quality problem?

OER is often cited as a viable alternative to expensive textbooks — and it’s still one of the most promising solutions to the problem of expensive educational materials. However, there are still many barriers to widespread adoption. A primary hurdle is that many professors are still skeptical of using free online content because they’re concerned about whether it’s of high quality.

The Chemeketa Press story: Saving students money, improving outcomes, benefiting the college

Things began to change at Chemeketa in 2015, when writing professor Steve Richardson questioned if the college itself could publish its own affordable and effective textbooks. Richardson had previously published a writing textbook using a print-on-demand publishing system, and thought the College might do the same with other books.

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