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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 7, 2019

"The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday." ~David SchlosserThis week’s collection of articles from around the web includes publishing advice from the perspective of an editor, ways to approach writing targets, internal contradictions with open access books, and ways to retreat and regroup after the academic year. There is also some additional discussion on the effect of Plan S on scholarly communication.

As you move forward with your writing projects this week, remember the advice of David Schlosser, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.” Happy writing!

Publishing advice from the perspective of an editor

I truly enjoy the variety of topics that I get to read and learn about, but I’ve also had to do a number of desk rejections. A while back, Dr. Nancy R. Gough shared her perspective as an editor for authors. I’ve also written about what I look for as a reviewer in a manuscript, and I follow these guidelines as an editor as well. Besides these pieces of advice, there are nine items that I’ve found to be important as an editor.

Writing targets – word count, time spent, or chunks?

Many people swear by writing goals. Perhaps it’s all about time. Timers allocate a given number of minutes for each writing session – say thirty minutes each morning, or a couple of hours two or three times a week. Or perhaps they are less motivated by time and more by the number of words written. Word counters set themselves a target for each and every writing session – five hundred words, a thousand, two thousand words. They don’t stop till they’ve churned out the required amount. I tend not to do either of these.

Internal contradictions with open access books

To judge from some of the comments inspired by the announcement of ORL, however, the whole business of OA publishing and the use of CC licenses should be brought before the community of OA publishers before proceeding. Apparently there is, or there is supposed to be, an unspoken and uncontracted agreement not to act unilaterally. But that is, in fact, contrary to the license under which the works in question were licensed. The very basis on which CC was conceived in the first place was to eliminate the administrative burden of seeking copyright permission (because the licenses tell you what you are permitted to do without asking). Nothing in the licenses requires or even suggests that the re-user should notify the originating author or publisher of intended use in advance.

How I retreat and regroup

For the last five years or so I’ve been taking myself on solitary writing retreats at the beginning of every summer. Usually, I have some kind of conceptual problem that I have to solve and that requires both direct contemplation and general rumination while I’m doing other things, but not interrupted by household obligations or interactions even with my beloved spouse. It requires being in a new environment to generate inspiration and new thoughts, especially when I’m still thinking about the previous academic year. It turns out I’ve developed quite a system over these years, and I thought it might be useful for some of you to hear something about this.

Plan S and the transformation of scholarly communication: Are we missing the woods?

If nothing else, Plan S is the gift that keeps on giving for bloggers, pundits, and consultants and this will certainly not be the last word on the revised guidelines you read here in the Scholarly Kitchen. I’m going to use the opportunity of having the first word here to take a step back to look at the bigger picture (so those of you looking for the play-by-play will have to wait!). Today, I’m more interested in how Plan S may or may not contribute to a more fundamental remake of scholarly communication – one that is more fit for purpose in this digital century, rather than one that continues to be driven by the legacy of the print era. And yes, I do worry that in all of the wrangling about what is and isn’t Plan S compliant, we’re far too focused on the trees and are not asking the right questions.