Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 15, 2019
This week’s collection of articles from around the web starts with ways to develop the habit of writing and to get creative with your thesis or dissertation. Our next set of articles offer different writing styles including tiny texts, the uneven U paragraph structure, and a tour of Roald Dahl’s “writing hut”. We close with articles focused on social media-based digital portraits of academics, valuing all of your time, and continued discussion of open access publishing.
As Amae Dechavez once said, “Writing is a continuous discovery – a learning process.” This week, we encourage you to discover new information, new habits, and new ideas. Happy writing!
Establish the discipline or habit of writing in a regular and continuous way on your proposal. Although setting aside a completed draft of the proposal for a time may provide some perspective to review your work before final polishing. A start-and-stop process of writing often disrupts the flow of work. It may turn a well-meaning researcher into what I call a “weekend writer,” an individual who has time for working on research only on weekends after all the important work of the week has been accomplished.
It seems to me that doctoral students are increasingly finding their creative voices, and that more supervisors and examiners are willing to support this process. I am sure that part of this is due to the existence of precedents such as those listed here and in previous posts.
I work a lot with tiny texts. Abstracts. Storyboards. Story threads. Lines of argument. Tiny texts are my academic writing tool of choice. If I had to abandon all the other writing strategies I have in my repertoire, this is The One I would keep. It’s my Desert Island academic writing Swiss Army knife. Tiny they might be, but little texts do a lot of heavy lifting for academic writing.
A lot of the advice Hayot offers will work for anyone, most especially his concept of the ‘Uneven U’: absolutely breakthrough advice for structuring paragraphs. Hayot’s Uneven U is a different take on the generic advice that is given to structure a paragraph, namely that one should start with a Topic sentence, then an explanation, example, analysis and summary.
Backstage at The Scholarly Kitchen this week we got into a discussion of the different approaches our authors (“Chefs”) take in writing their posts. Some like to let an idea slowly percolate over time, and then work toward a deadline to put things together. Others wait until inspiration strikes and immediately put down words in a draft. We all have our individual ways of working, and with that in mind, I came across the video below where Roald Dahl offers a tour of his “writing hut”, his backyard shed where he did his work.
I think of online personas more as digital portraits. Some are pointillist – search results composed of tiny points of information. Some are abstract – the array of data that retailers collect about you, never fully realised, never really seen. Some, like Instagram, could be self-portraits. Others, like Facebook, may be family portraits. Of all of these digital portraits, I think that there are three that are vital for any academic.
Here’s why an hour is never an hour. For a start, the initial conversation takes time, whether it’s done by email or by phone. Then there are arrangements to make. I have to figure out where the university is and how to get there…. In fact this kind of speaking engagement usually takes more time than the half-day I charge for. I’m OK with that – but it is never, ever, “just an hour”.
When an editorial board resigns it can disrupt the journals ecosystem, and the recent announcement from the editorial board for the Journal of Informetrics (JOI) has led to yet more discussion about open access (the ostensible reason for the resignation). But was it just about open access, or are there bigger issues at play here? Journal editors often sit at the intersection of research and publishing, and have to navigate differing perceptions of ownership in the journals that they manage.