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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 10, 2020

“Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step.” ~ Muhammad AliWhether you just started an academic writing career or you have been publishing journal articles and textbooks for years, the sudden changes in recent weeks can have us all feeling like beginners.

This week’s collection of articles discusses topics of researching in a digital world, changes in the academic library, considerations related to PhD pursuits during COVID-19, and do’s and don’ts for using visuals during virtual meetings. We close the collection with articles about getting by and getting on and publishing models in an open age.

Muhammad Ali once said, “Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step.” Whether your first step or your next first step – Happy writing!

Being a PhD researcher in a digital world

During last year, I found myself drawn to attend several workshops run by the research education and development team at my university. They had topics such as blogging and developing a digital profile. My interests sprang from a desire to get my research and writing on girl internees in Changi during World War II – and my wider interests in the editing and publishing worlds – out into the wider world. However, I kept coming up against an existential blockage: what sort of ‘me’ did I want to be when I’m out there in the digital world? And who did I want to connect with? Who did I want to share my work, words and thoughts with?

Academic libraries at a pivotal moment

While much has changed since S+R fielded this survey, it also provides some of the most recent and comprehensive evidence for the directions that academic library leaders may take as part of strategic cutbacks. In today’s piece, we provide an overview of what lessons the scholarly communication and academic publishing sector can draw from the survey.

Should you quit (go part time or pause) your PhD during COVID-19?

Deciding how to carry on with your PhD in a pandemic  is a classic ‘wicked problem’ with no right or wrong answer. No doubt there will be pros and cons both ways. While it is tempting, especially if you are on a paid scholarship, to stay in your program, delays you might face now might have unexpected consequences down the track. Other people might be tempted to quit immediately… but this might not be the most opportune time to down tools, no matter how hopeless it looks.

Do’s and don’ts for using visuals during virtual meetings

It’s no wonder virtual meetings are on the rise – they are generally cheaper, can allow for more participants, and with many technology solutions to choose from they are easier to plan for and arrange than ever. But they don’t come without some risks and potential downsides. Groups may already be facing difficult communication challenges, and distance can create even more obstacles for team culture and progress. Just as with in-person meetings, visuals can play an essential role in supporting individuals and groups with building relationships and getting results.

Getting by and getting on

So this post is really just to say to the doctoral researchers I work with, and those who I work with indirectly, it’s OK not to be on top of it all. I’m not. Take the time to sort out how to manage. I am. Acknowledge your feelings. Look after yourselves. Do the best you can. That’s me too. Day to day. One thing at a time. And importantly, don’t hesitate to seek social support online and with your peers, supervisors and colleagues. See what your university has on offer at this time – please please ask for financial assistance if you need it. Campaign for funding and deadline extensions if you are up to it, and if you’re not that’s fine too.

Seeking sustainability: Publishing models for an open access age

Last week I had the privilege of serving as the keynote speaker for “Seeking Sustainability: Publishing Models for an Open Access Age.” This virtual event was originally developed as a preconference for the annual UKSG conference, which like so many events was cancelled to help fight the global pandemic. This piece is a reconstruction of my remarks, highlighting the main points that are on my mind as I think about open access, business models, and sustainability.