Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 4, 2019
This week’s collection of posts from around the web is full of advice on a variety of topics of interest for academic and textbook authors. Topics include: creative thinking, co-writing, starting a PhD, starting a research network, dissemination of research, research feature creep, dissertation committee service, open access ethics, research data sharing, and academic book reviews.
As varied as this topic list may seem, collectively it represents some of the many questions and challenges faced by academic authors daily. Stephen King once said, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” The same is true for your answers to these questions and challenges. If it doesn’t naturally fit your academic pursuits, it’s not the right path for this stage of your academic career. This week focus on the words that fit best for where you are in the process. Happy writing!
It’s unlikely that you will wake up tomorrow with The Idea that will solve one of the major issues. But with deliberate practice, and setting aside time frequently to think about how you can contribute, we may all inch forward to solutions. Here is what you can do on a regular basis to use your creative thinking for the greater good.
What is your gut reaction when you hear “group project”? If you’re like many high-achievers who end up in graduate school, you may roll your eyes, sigh deeply, or even groan aloud. Many of us own the mantra of if I want it done right, I’ll do it myself, but academia is critically reliant upon the ability to work collaboratively with others. Even so, co-writing a manuscript with a research team is a unique form of collaboration, due in large part to the process of writing as opposed to giving a presentation or creating a different type of product.
Did you know that the average age on entry to a PhD in Australia is 34 years old? Over the time I have been whispering this average age gets older and older. There are a few PhD students at ANU who enrolled in their PhD in their late sixties and early seventies. It’s never too late to pursue the PhD dream, but what’s it like for people who are older to be surrounded by younger students all the time? Catherine Racine offers her story.
One of the things I should make clear from the start is that I’m talking about how to start a research network with few to zero resources. I’m not talking about setting something up with a ready cache of funding, or the need to access such a cache. These are the key things you need if you want to start a research network.
What makes a good mentor in a research context? That is the question discussed in an earlier post. Skills, expertise, awareness, attitudes, and behaviors were mapped to three main categories of knowing, doing, and being. For mentors who work with students or early career researchers, dissemination of their research is a priority. How can you encourage and assist them in publishing and presenting their work?
Feature creep in research is when you add onto your initial plan in ways that endanger the whole enterprise, when doing more actually means you will have trouble staying afloat. Feature creep is a particular danger for people doing time-limited or funding-limited research – or both – as adding on may mean you just can’t get the work done.
The reason that most of us serve on dissertation committees is for the V.I.P. flights to exotic locations, passes to all Hollywood premiers, and unlimited free dry cleaning. Actually, none of that has ever happened for me or anyone that I know. We serve on dissertation committees because we like to help people and the job is interesting. That said, there can be challenges.
Independent researcher Dr. Helen Kara recently completed an important new book: Research Ethics in the Real World. She also co-edited a special issue on “New Directions in Qualitative Research Ethics” for the March 2017 International Journal of Social Research Methodology. She generously agreed to share this collection of open access ethics resources with Methodspace readers. You can find more of her writings about ethics, conducting research, writing and getting published, on her blog.
The landscape of actors involved in supporting the publication and sharing of research data is a crowded one, populated by research funders, scholarly publishers, university administrations and libraries, and nonprofit organizations. Ithaka S+R has studied a number of key trends in this space, including how scholars manage their own collections (for example, datasets), the hiring of data librarians at research universities, and the ways in which successful data sharing happens in established and emergent data communities (such as spinal cord injury, literary sound recording, and zooarchaeology). Turning to look specifically at large-scale generalist data repositories, it is clear that sharing research data is also increasingly becoming a real business.
The academic book review has long had a status issue, both in the United States and elsewhere. So if writing academic book reviews isn’t likely to do much for your career, why should you continue to produce them? Particularly at a time when academics are more overburdened than ever, struggling to balance increasingly heavy workloads with a growing pressure to publish?