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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: December 6, 2019

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” - Philip RothPhilip Roth once said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Compared with the popular saying that references good intentions, from a writer’s perspective works-in-progress are certainly the physical remnants of our good, yet unfinished, intentions. But there are a lot of things competing with our time and making it difficult to finish those intended projects.

This week’s collection of articles seems to address some of those issues. For starters, there may be things you want to read that the full text may or may not be worth the time, or you may be managing a heavy teaching load, juggling multiple writing projects, or trying to select the right journal for your work. All well-intentioned, but perhaps resulting in works-in-progress on the highway to hell. Other good intentions in our industry come with their own potential problems or unintended consequences. Some of these are also addressed below, including: giving feedback on academic writing, accepting people with disabilities, blogging efforts, faculty authoring, open access initiatives, and publishing industry mergers.

Whatever path your writing takes you this week, set your mindset and destination for better. Find ways to finish the projects you start, especially those with your best of intentions, and explore new ways to accomplish your writing goals. Happy writing!

TL;DR (That is, too long; didn’t read)

I recently spent the better part of a work day reading Richard Poynder’s 87-page treatise on the current status of open access. Even as I printed it out, so as to protect myself from any digital distraction while reading, I wondered whether reading the full text was in fact the best use of my time. Was there an executive summary that might suffice? Could I skim it and just pick up the general gist of his argument? Truthfully, the response to both questions turned out to be No.

How to write a lot on a heavy teaching load

I have learned some things along the way that have helped me write more regularly and publish with greater frequency, even on a 4/4 load with over 110 students in a semester, summer teaching and no teaching or research assistants or dedicated administrative assistance. I want to pass along my hard-won lessons to you.

Juggling multiple writing projects: Three top tips

This is a crazy year of writing. A co-written book is about to be published and I’m working on three others (one solo, two co-written) and preparing a fifth, also co-written, for self-publication next spring. I have two co-written journal articles in production, one on submission, two more under construction (one co-written, one solo) and I’ve just agreed to collaborate on another next year. Then there are research reports and, for one client, a book chapter. Not to mention writing a post for this blog most weeks.

How to select the right journal for your work

If you are at the point during your PhD trajectory or beyond when you feel ready to start preparing your first journal article, you need to select the right venue to submit your work to. Editors comment that a lot of desk rejections can be avoided by properly selecting a journal. Today, therefore, we will focus on the topic of selecting the right journal for your work.

How to give feedback on academic writing – Twelve top tips

A recent discussion on Facebook reminded me that I’ve written about how to deal with feedback from reviewers, but I haven’t written about how to give feedback to peers and colleagues. There is an art to this which I have learned, paradoxically, from receiving feedback, which taught me what helps and what does not help.

On being accepted: The views of four people with disabilities working in scholarly communications

Today’s interview tackles another type of exclusion — the lack of acceptance that people with disabilities typically face at work. The interviewees are Katy Alexander (Global Director for Marketing and Communications at Digital Science), Becky Degler (Digital Product Manager at Wiley), and Simon Holt (Senior Acquisitions Editor at Elsevier), who recently co-authored a recent guest post on the topic, as well as a fourth contributor, who is a manager at a large publishing company, and who has asked to remain anonymous. Together, they share their experiences of working in scholarly communications and their thoughts on how we, as a community, could do more to support people with disabilities — for everyone’s benefit.

Blog as teach-in/teach-out

Like many others, I once saw possibilities in social media for support and nurturing of diverse alternative communities. As a miniscule contribution to that goal, I set up this blog with the teach-in – or teach out, as these things are called today – in mind. Rather than write more books, or simply teach a few people at my own university or run a few workshops, I was interested in whether a blog could be free ‘teaching’, available anywhere, anytime, to anyone who had a web connection.

Students raise concern regarding lack of University-wide policy on faculty teaching their books

The decision on whether to allow faculty to teach books they have edited and authored has played out on college campuses across the country. Proponents find the practice allows lecturers to teach work they know intimately and is sometimes considered the best literature on a particular subject, whereas critics assert it allows faculty to take advantage of students and raises ethical concerns.

Publishers announce a major new service to plug leakage

Today, a group of the largest scholarly publishers is announcing a new effort to improve discovery and access, fight piracy, compete with ResearchGate, and position their platforms for an open access ecosystem. Their new “Get Full Text Research” (GetFTR) service will meaningfully improve access for the vast majority of users who discover articles from starting points other than the publisher website.

College bookstores oppose Cengage-McGraw merger

College bookstores have joined the growing list of opponents to the planned merger of two major academic publishers: Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education. The National Association of College Stores, which represents more than 3,000 institutionally owned and operated stores, on Tuesday declared its opposition to the merger in an emailed letter to Cengage.