Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 17, 2020
Gustave Flaubert once said, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” In textbook and academic writing, we often find this to be true as we search for the answers to research questions and work to clearly express ideas and knowledge to our readers. But, like art, writing and the writing process is unique for each author.
Our collection of articles begins with an approach that focuses on writing for yourself first and your audience second, methods to communicate research findings to the world, and the impact of COVID-19 on student research projects. We also consider the differences between part time and full time researchers and students and how the current state of the world has forced even full time faculty and researchers into a part time routine. Finally, we explore some industry concepts including the bundling of academic journal subscriptions, potential budget cuts to academic libraries, and the stories behind some scholarly publishing brand names.
Whether you’re working on putting a name to your work or carefully crafting each word that is placed on the page as you finish your most recent written masterpiece, let the art of your writing help you discover your beliefs. Happy writing!
When I write, I write for myself. I put myself on the pages. I put myself in the edits. I write so that I can understand, explain and express. I don’t know if my words will be heard, I don’t know if my words will resonate. I don’t really think about that when I write. What matters to me is that I have heard, that I have gained clarity. I recognise that being clear about my audience is important, the audience does matter. For me, though, this comes after I have clarity and understanding of my own thoughts and words.
I recently became aware of a company called Research Outreach, a group that offers to authors services designed to help them make their work more easily available to, and understood by, the general public. The more I investigated, the more intrigued I became — and the more questions I had. I reached out to Emma Feloy, editor of the organization’s eponymous publication. She gracious agreed to participate in an email interview.
Around the world, higher education faculty and students have been grappling with the mammoth task of flipping from face-to-face teaching to online learning, practically overnight. As teaching faculty scramble to figure out how to use Zoom for online learning and the debate continues as to whether universities should cancel exams or switch to home-based open book or open Google exams, it’s becoming clear that the impact of COVID-19 on academic research could be just as profound as the impact on teaching.
I’m sure the part-timers reading the list of changes that full-timers are experiencing will have other things to add. But I am equally sure that there may be the odd quiet smile. There’s a fine irony here. All of these things – squeezing work into time and space at home, restricted library access, limited opportunities to socialise except by appointment, supervision only at appointed times and online, a limited range of workshops, classes and seminars – are the norm for part-timers.
In recent years, many universities have concluded that the price they pay for their Big Deal journal license agreements and the resulting value they perceive have become misaligned. As a consequence, academia has stiffened its negotiating posture with leading journal publishers. The outcome of these negotiations can be grouped into two categories: rebundling and unbundling. Most attention in recent years has been given over to the search for open access, by transforming Big Deal subscriptions into rebundled transformative agreements. But last week’s news makes clear that attention is equally needed on unbundling the Big Deal — breaking it back up into a la carte elements. Will some combination of these two outcomes allow major publishers to reestablish the value of their licenses without making a major revenue sacrifice?
University librarians are preparing for tough times ahead, even though the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood. Could big deals with publishers be on the chopping block?
When we started Kudos, we thought the name we had chosen was pretty much “does what it says on the tin” – we wanted to increase the visibility of research, and help researchers build their reputation, i.e., gain more kudos for their work. But it has become apparent over the years that the name and its intended meaning are not understood by everyone. Being asked the story behind the name again recently – by a new member of our team – got me thinking about other companies in our sector with interesting names. So I contacted a few other organizations and asked if they had a story to tell. Here are the fascinating insights I’m able to share with you as a consequence!