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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: August 23, 2019

“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.” – Charles DickensFor many of us, we are at the start of a new academic year, whether as students, faculty, or both. This time of year is laden with opportunity and, oftentimes, apprehension and stress for what’s to come and all that needs to be accomplished. New years bring new challenges and new possibilities in a sea of ever-changing processes and populations.

This week’s collection of posts from around the web will hopefully help you find greater opportunities for success and purpose to the process as we explore the value of writing centers and writing groups, established and new research processes, and ways to improve scholarly communication and dissemination of research.

Charles Dickens wrote, “The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.” What have you been wishing for in your academic writing efforts? It’s time to stop wishing and start doing. Happy writing!

How your writing centre can help you finish you PhD

One of the most difficult things about the dissertation process is its solitary nature. When I reached that stage of my degree, I felt like people told me to go sit in a corner and write until I produced something perfect and brilliant. It took me a long time to understand that my dissertation was never going to be perfect; it took me an even longer time to understand that it wasn’t supposed to be. By the end of the process, I felt completely isolated by and with my dissertation and was at a loss as to what to do about it. What I know now is that at least some of that could have been rectified had I taken full advantage of campus resources, especially the campus writing center.

5 Tips for creating a productive writing group

Writing groups are one way that graduate students can turn this isolating experience into an opportunity for collaboration, friendship and growth. But how do you go about building and maintaining a successful writing group for graduate students? Here are five tips.

The value of redundancy in research, or, in research, redundancy has value

A common goal in efforts to reform scholarly communications is the elimination of inefficiencies from the process. Last week, Tim Vines wrote about eLife’s new peer review efforts meant to address the “review-reject cycle”, which Tim described as, “one of the big inefficiencies in the current system.” While everyone in the research community would appreciate more efficiency, it is important to recognize the value of redundancy in research and evaluation processes. Redundancy is a feature of the system, not a bug.

Using mobile applications for social science research

The most common justification for social scientists incorporating apps into their research is their ability to capture data about social phenomena in situ. Social scientists are interested in people’s “everyday real-world behavior.” Yet, as Shiffman et al argue, behavior is “seldom studied, assessed, or observed as it unfolds in the real world.” Instead, researchers often rely on summary and self-reports of behavior.

Where is the publication puck going? Making research available “upstream” of publication

Publications, and related artefacts (such as data, images and code), may continue to be the currency of research knowledge exchange, but audiences – both within and beyond academia – increasingly expect more in terms of how, where and when they can access this knowledge, and in what formats. Meanwhile, with funders pushing for greater return on investment and institutions seeking to improve performance, researchers are also under pressure to take a more proactive approach to the communication and dissemination of their work, to ensure stakeholder engagement and accelerated uptake from the earliest stage of a project. These and other factors necessitate a fresh view of the role / value of publishers in the research workflow; could publishing skills and capacity be re-positioned to serve researchers at earlier stages in the research process, “upstream” of publication?

Conference tips – the old-school handout

We’ve all been to that conference session where the presenter puts up a slide with a really complicated table. Or a very dense set of quotations. They don’t do this to deliberately confuse people or give them eye strain – they want to show their evidence. Without this table or set of quotes their argument might not fly. So if you want avoid the cluttered evidence slide, what can you do? Well, there’s one old school-strategy that still works – the conference handout.

A case for universal and simplified journal systems

The global scholarly publishing industry includes over 33,000 peer-reviewed English-language journals, a number that continues to grow steadily. Despite this enormous figure, the main stages in the publication cycle, the overall roles journals play, and the requirements for original research papers are fairly similar across journals – more so within broad disciplines. Yet, journal systems, processes, and guidelines can vary substantially even within the same discipline. For an established industry of this scale, scholarly publishing conspicuously lacks standardization in these areas.

Teaching methods with research cases: Participatory action research

Cases can be used in a multitude of ways for teaching the practice of research. While research texts and books offer fundamental principles, and articles discuss research that applies these principles, case studies offer a holistic viewpoint. Cases show how the theoretical and procedural aspects of research design fit together. They discuss what happened in the course of the study, including decision-making and problem-solving strategies used to overcome obstacles.

Ask the chefs: Competition and cooperation

Cooperative competition, or coopetition, has been around for some time. The digital economy has seemed to spark a renewed interest in inspiring the “cooperation of rivals” to some extent. Scholarly communication also has examples of where rival publishers have worked together to support an industry goal (e.g., CrossRef, ORCID, etc.). This month the Chefs explore how coopetition might apply to scholarly communications answering the question: What does coopetition mean in scholarly communications?