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The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: September 7, 2018

"The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any." ~Russell BakerRussell Baker once said, “The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.” As writers, we can certainly acknowledge the work such a craft requires, and in the genres of academic and textbook authoring the wide range of additional concerns for balance, accuracy, research integrity, and innovation in our writing efforts.

This week our collection of posts from around the web begins with a question, “Are there only four kinds of writers?” inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The four tendencies. This evaluation of a writer is paired with authoring benefits, ways to improve academic output, time and energy management, research methods, diversity in peer review, critical and creative thinking, and privacy in user research – all factors of consideration for the academic author, regardless the type. Finally, we close this week’s list with considerations of the future of our profession, with new approaches to textbook development and e-book potential, the realities of open source and scholarly publishing, and significant changes in the trend toward open access in scientific publishing.

As you embark on your writing efforts in the week ahead, I encourage you to recognize and embrace the real work involved in the writing process and to find encouragement and support to continue those efforts. Happy writing!

Are there only four kinds of writers?

My latest secret shame is Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The four tendencies: the indispensable personality profiles that reveal how to make your life better (and other people’s lives better too)’. I picked it up in the store with a smug smirk and started reading it. ‘Oh how very unscientific’ I chuckled to myself. Against my better judgment, the four tendencies started to appeal. Certainly this framework seems to explain some behaviour patterns I have observed over many years of working with PhD students.

Writing more than one thing at the same time – part two, authoring

There are good reasons for writing alongside the thesis. Besides contributing to the work (see first post) and your cv, there are authoring benefits. These include:

  • the chance to learn more about academic writing
  • the opportunity to develop a scholarly writing identity and voice

I’m going to talk about each of these separately, although they clearly overlap.

Residential writing retreats: three wishes for academic output

I should have asked for ‘time’ and ‘space’ and ‘someone to cook my meals’ so I could get on with what I actually love: reading, asking questions, collaborating with other academics, discovering answers, writing, editing prose, and disseminating my findings.

PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: Manage your energy, not your time

Here is Auntie Eva again with a post about planning or time management, I can hear you say with a sigh. But today, I’ll focus on one specific element of time management: you need to learn how to manage your energy (essentially, yourself – your raw material) if you want to be able to manage your time.

How do research methods affect results?

I think that bias in favour of – or against – a particular research method, without good evidence of its benefits and disadvantages, is poor research practice. And it’s not only the positivists who are subject to this. Advocates of participatory research are every bit as biased, albeit in the opposite direction. The way some participatory researchers write, you’d think their research caused bluebirds to sing and rainbows to gleam and all to be well in the world.

How would you ensure diversity in peer review?

Next week is Peer Review Week 2018. Asking the Chefs a peer review question has become a bit of a tradition for us. In 2016 we asked: What is the future of peer review? Last year we contemplated: Should peer review change? This year the theme is diversity in peer review. So we’ve asked the Chefs: How would you ensure diversity in peer review?

Critical & creative thinking in research

Critical thinking and creative thinking are distinctly different, but highly interconnected. Nowhere is this symbiotic relationship more apparent than in the practices inherent to research design, conduct, and dissemination. What do these terms mean, and how can we use them to better understand our roles as researchers?

Privacy in user research: Can you?

We may live in the age of privacy nihilism but recognizing one’s reality does not have to mean agreeing to do your own work by its terms. This post is for those publishers, academic and research librarians, and others who conduct research on user behavior in library information systems, who — whether for personal and/or professional ethical reasons or policies — want to do so in ways that prioritize privacy.

Reinventing the textbook in environmental law: time for something new?

If academics are to continue these labours of love, changes in technology and the educational experience force us to think about what we are doing in writing textbooks and how we are doing it. Are our intellectual and physical energies being well deployed? Do we have the right vision for student textbooks?

Making e-textbooks more interactive

Columbus State Community College created a multimedia e-book for English composition students that reduces textbook costs and reimagines the ways learners engage with course material. Composition class is about reading and writing, but the iBook allows students with different learning styles to engage with the material, noted Jason LaMar, supervisor of instructional technology innovations in the Digital Education and Instructional Services division.

Open source and scholarly publishing

There are many misconceptions about open source and scholarly publishing that often overshadow the enormous potential it has to lead organizations to modernized, efficient workflows and to allow them to innovate sustainably. Let’s take a first look at some commonly asked questions…

European science funders ban grantees from publishing in paywalled journals

Frustrated with the slow transition toward open access (OA) in scientific publishing, 11 national funding organizations in Europe turned up the pressure today. As of 2020, the group, which jointly spends about €7.6 billion on research annually, will require every paper it funds to be freely available from the moment of publication. In a statement, the group said it will no longer allow the 6- or 12-month delays that many subscription journals now require before a paper is made OA, and it won’t allow publication in so-called hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also make individual papers OA for an extra fee.