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The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: September 28, 2018

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly." ~C.J. CherryhAs the seasons change and the academic year starts to settle into more of a routine, for some, the writing gets easier and the schedule is set up for success. For others, the daily schedule has begun to feel more overwhelming and the ability to focus or maintain momentum may be challenging.

This week’s collection of articles from around the web includes ways to generate ideas, create a super focused workday, balance family and academic life, be ready for a change in scenery to maintain a productive writing practice, successfully build a research network, and deal with the administrative grief of academic environments. We’ve also found great insight into the rise of peer review, research ethics, read and publish models, critical thinking, and the dissemination of scientific facts.

Wherever your writing takes you this week, we hope it moves you in the direction of your goals. As C. J. Cherryh reminds us, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.” Happy writing!

What is the idea generator? Part one

The idea generator is just that: You walk around for months trying to solve a problem, and it feels impossible. However, the ideas are incubating; they are cooking; they are jostling around in our head unconsciously, and suddenly, Bingo! Someone says something, and your brain shoots out the answer to your problem.

Six steps to create a super focused workday

What if you could sit down at your computer every morning, click open your documents, and have your work simply flow? Ah, how wonderful would that be? Maybe academic work can’t be quite that effortless, but there are simple things you can do to increase the odds of focus and flow happening.

Parents who study

Doing a PhD and/or starting an academic career can be a lonely business. But you can get support, some of it through social media. This is a guest blog post by Nicola White and Rebekah Farrell who started their own support group on Facebook.

My dissertation go bag

Like its namesake, the emergency go bag, this backpack is ready to go at a moment’s notice and has everything in it (except my computer) I need to survive a writing session at the library or coffee shop. This means that I am always prepared to get to work, which minimizes any excuses I might create to avoid writing. Here is a list of items that I keep in my Dissertation Go Bag, items that make it easier for me to write:

Networking that works

The coveted end-point of all this networking for researchers is to be known enough to be recommended to others, and be approached for career and scholarly opportunities. I thought it’d be interesting for someone like me, who’s not a typical networker or big socialiser, to reflect on what would prompt me to recommend someone for an opportunity. What kind of experience would I need to have had with that person? What is the vibe I’d need to be getting from them?

Dealing with administrative grief

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with whilst working on my PhD is managing the expectations of my university. In the end, I realised we were working towards two different goals. While we both wanted me to complete the PhD, our relationship was more complicated than that.

The rise of peer review: Melinda Baldwin on the history of refereeing at scientific journals and funding bodies

Melinda paints a picture of constant change in peer review, which perhaps provides a lesson for us all.  Maybe this should be obvious, but there is no status quo in academic publishing, and while we may feel our moment is more important than those that have gone before, or those ahead of us, expectations and models are fluid, be you author, reviewer, publisher, institution, or funder.

Ethics of independent research work #1

I guess we all know by now that I bang on a fair bit about research ethics, but I haven’t written about the ethical aspects of working as an independent researcher. I have come up with ten ethical principles for indie researchers. Many of these no doubt apply to other forms of self-employment too, but they definitely all apply to independent research work. This post contains the first five principles; I will post the other five next week.

Why a society publisher is moving toward read and publish models

Read & Publish models have been in the spotlight for some time in Europe, and in July they arrived in the US with MIT signing the first such deal with us, the Royal Society of Chemistry. This is significant as it signals the model has appeal to research intensive universities outside of Europe, and global uptake is needed for the model to impact the open access (OA) landscape. Our deal with MIT attracted much attention and comment. Unlike other Read & Publish models, the “Read” component is directly linked to changes in the amount of paywalled content, allowing for a smooth transition toward more OA content in future.

Two perspectives on critical thinking and research

Tom Chatfield and I participated in a dialogue about critical thinking at the recent Academy of Management conference. I asked him to continue the conversation in writing, with a focus on critical thinking and research. Use the comment area if you would like to join in the discussion!

Scientific facts – are they like myths, told through fairytales and spread like gossip?

To create better systems for knowledge extraction from scientific papers, it is useful to understand how humans glean knowledge from text in the first place. Studying the language of science delivers some surprising results: fairytale schemas help us to understand the narrative structure of articles; the study of verb tense reveals common linguistic patterns of sense-making between science and mythology, and tracing hedging in citations allows us how citations work to spread claims much like rumors.