Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: November 13, 2020
Angela Carter once said, “A book is simply the container of an idea—like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.” What goes inside the book, however, is the challenge every author faces. It takes process, persistence, and support to complete our writing projects and to produce something that matters.
In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we have advice on using outlines, setting goals, taking notes, finding your target audience, and writing conclusions. We also found information on networking, writing retreats, unspoken privilege, and growth as a writer. Finally, we explore the global outlook for open access and other academic publishing trends.
Remember that the final product – your book, paper, grant proposal, or other writing project – is merely the container. It’s the ideas that you express inside that manuscript that matter most. Happy writing!
One of the concepts I’ve re-emphasized my students is the notion of outlines, specifically Initial Outlines (the ones we prepare at the beginning of the writing process) and Detailed Outlines (which we develop to help us “flesh out” our arguments and write full papers). This is the process I use to develop my outlines and the one I teach my students.
Whether you’re doing AcWriMo or not, it’s obviously important to make writing goals realistic. You have to think about what is feasible given how you know you write, and what is possible and practical, given your other responsibilities.
How to take smart notes: One simple technique to boost writing, learning and thinking – for students, academics and nonfiction book writers (my reading notes)
There are numerous strategies to take notes with index cards, but perhaps the most famous is Niklas Luhman’s Zettelkasten, which has recently been made popular again by Dr. Sönke Ahrens, who wrote one of the most authoritative texts on the method. Full disclosure: though I bought and paid for Ahres’ book on my own dime, I actually do NOT use Zettelkasten, as my Twitter thread explains.
Take some time to do this research. I know it can be tedious, but the better understanding you have of books that are similar to your own, the easier it will be to craft your reader profile and reach those readers. Aim to have a least ten comparable authors on your list before moving to the next step.
Is there anything worse than writing conclusions? Even beginnings are easier, I find, than summing up, because I can trick myself into starting by telling myself ‘I’m just taking some notes‘. ‘I’ll put that quotation I like as an epigram.’ And don’t get me wrong. I love reading conclusions.
How do you build a network of author friends and peers over the long-term? How can you overcome anxiety about online or in-person events in order to network more effectively? Daniel Parsons and I share tips on networking online and also for physical events post-pandemic.
In 2020, as many researchers are in lockdown and working from home, there are new challenges for concentrating on and completing writing. In this post, Andy Tattersall outlines his experience running online writing retreats. He finds that they not enable researchers to be productive in lockdown but also bring back a sense of academic community, which the closure of campuses has compromised.
There is a form of privilege that we try not to speak about. Society knows this privilege and often casts woeful eyes and aching hearts to those without it but, in academia and science, we cover our faces and look away from this privilege because to admit to the lack thereof, is to admit how few without it end up entering our hallowed halls and ivory towers. For what we rarely admit is that it is a privilege to grow up safe, loved, believing in your intrinsic value, and unabused by those entrusted with our care.
How do we know if we are growing as writers—if we are really growing? I daresay it is far less about how well we are crafting our plot structures and our sentences, and much more about whether what we are writing is true enough and powerful enough to affect our own perceptions of life and our approaches to living it.
At the recent STM Online Conference, presenters considered the current state and future prospects of Open Access publishing in ways especially fitting for 2020. Like so much else, OA publishing in October 2020 must address difficult questions about equity and justice. Program panelists Joy Owango, Sara Rouhi, and Rebecca Lawrence all offered frank views on the barriers that researchers confront when pursuing publication of their work.
As soon we confirmed Publishing Trends as the MethodSpace theme for AcWriMo 2020, I knew one person I needed to interview. I met Katie Metzler years ago, when she represented SAGE in a meeting at the Oxford University Internet Institute. We’d both been part of a forward-thinking project called “Blurring the Boundaries: New Social Media, New Social Science.” This project pressed us to think about crossing boundaries of methodology and discipline to do research in a digital world.