Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 11, 2019

"Writing is something I do everyday. If I waited for inspiration, I'd never get anything done." ~Lawrence C. ConnollyThe new year. A time for resolutions and habit forming. Hopefully this year, writing is a habit you are working to develop. In the words of Lawrence C. Connolly, “Writing is something I do everyday. If I waited for inspiration, I’d never get anything done.” While this may be true, we hope you find inspiration and resources to further your writing in the following collection of posts from around the web.

We start with some non-writing new year’s resolutions and academic trends before exploring the balance of work and research as well as of work and home lives. We continue the collection with online resources to identify and highlight women experts, examine the joy of kids for the teacher-scholar, and address the double-bind theory of scholarly publishing. Finally, we revisit the discussion of problems with textbook costs and free alternatives as well as a new problem of printing delays in academic book publishing.

Whatever this next week has in store, we hope you find time to write every day and to move forward on your projects toward your goals for 2019. Happy Writing!

New year – seeing anew

Translating your thinking into ‘stuff’ can be a good way to revisit your research and your writing. You don’t need a competition to experiment with different ways to imagine your process and/or your analysis and/or your ideas.  You could in fact bake, draw, sculpt, knit, film your research any old time – particularly if you are feeling a bit stale.

New year’s resolution: Review a book a week

My New Year’s resolution this year is to spread a little happiness by reviewing an academic book each week. Academic books, even those that are widely read and cited, rarely receive public reviews. Yet public reviews online are the most useful tools to help potential readers decide whether or not to read a book.

I am Andrew Watson, and this is how I work

Andrew is a second year Doctorial Researcher at the University of Glasgow. By day Andrew is a Data Analyst for an Insurance Provider and by night is researching peoples bodily and sensorial engagement with Neolithic funerary monuments.

Setting boundaries between work and home

Work is always with you in the digital age. In today’s Academic Minute, Widener University‘s Donna McCloskey explores how to set boundaries between work and home. McCloskey is an associate professor in Widener’s School of Business Administration.

Yes, women also know: Online resources to identify and highlight women experts

Tackling one aspect of diversity and inclusion, both accessible digital technology and professional habituation to using online resources have spurred a host of projects to represent and promote women’s research and expertise. These projects provide resources that call attention to the problems of bias, and make locating women experts easy. The projects that include searchable databases aim to take the “but I don’t know any women in that field / with that experience / doing that kind of research / who has written about that” excuses out of the equation for conference organizers, editors, journalists, and more. The more ingrained the use of such resources becomes, the more and better progress we’ll make in consulting, quoting, including, inviting, reading, and citing women.

The joy of kids for the teacher-scholar

Personal essays about the joys of academic life with kids are hard to come by, but Erin L. Thompson strikes gold when she emphasizes how “kids can help you be a better professor.” Without cheapening the vital role that essays about the struggles of parenting in academe can play for readers, I think it can be just as healthy to reflect on the surprising joys and insights when your life mingles diapers and revisions, or time-outs and faculty meetings. Everyone’s experience differs with regards to children, so I proffer my thoughts as one person’s reality. Here, then, is how the balance of kids and academe has shaped me.

The double-bind theory of scholarly publishing

When Gregory Bateson was developing his double-bind theory,  he must have been trying to comply with Plan S. When a person is put in a double bind, the instructions are contradictory. It’s not possible to satisfy one set of conditions without violating the other. This will make you crazy, if you aren’t already. The double bind comes into play in scholarly publishing when some groups want publishers to do more and more and others insist that publishers should make do with less. After all, publishers apparently have a 40% profit margin, so stop whining and share the wealth.

Professors worry about the cost of textbooks, but free alternatives pose their own problems

When it comes to textbooks, faculty members have a lot of feelings. Many of them negative. But their thoughts on digital coursework and openly licensed materials aren’t any less conflicted. These opinions, found in “Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2018,” a survey of more than 4,000 faculty members and department chairs released Wednesday, paint a complex picture of a fast-changing landscape, one in which instructors and students have more options about course materials than ever before, yet the best path forward remains unclear.

Printing delays present ‘new normal’ for academic books

When one of the largest independent book and journal printers in the U.S. closed its doors last summer, many university presses braced themselves for printing delays. What they didn’t expect from the closure of Edwards Brothers Malloy was that the disruption would continue into 2019.