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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 22, 2021

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.What a week! As we seemingly race to the end of the first month of a new year, most new academic terms are in full swing and this week in the US it has been a week of emotion and words for many. The week began with the celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and peaked at midday on Wednesday with the inauguration of the 46th president, Joe Biden. Through it all, one thing is certain – words matter, your voice as an academic author matter, your contribution to the education of our society matters.

King once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Are you meeting this goal in your education or the education of others through your work? In this week’s collection of articles, we share advice on restarting an unfinished book, getting your “Creator” and “Editor” on the same page, and how “Words Matter”. We continue with practical strategies for hypotheses, use of ethnographic field notes, and facilitating group discussions online. Then we close with industry and social interests related to publishing, sharing your research with others, and perspectives amidst the ongoing pandemic.

As you approach the week ahead, know that words matter and, more specifically, your words matter. Choose them wisely. Think intensively. Think critically. And build both intelligence and character through your words. Happy writing!

How to restart your unfinished book

Is this the year you recommit to a project that’s languished, unfinished, for months or years? The one where you think: one day… when I can dig out my notes… and have a few solid hours to really dive in… Newsflash: Your calendar will never magically pop up “Today You Can Focus Entirely on That One Project.” To finish that book on the back burner, you must actively bring it forward.

Help your inner ‘Creator’ and ‘Editor’ get along

You’re writing? And feeling a bit pulled in two directions at once? Perhaps that’s not surprising. Writers have two inter-related personae –the Creator and the Editor. Well, that’s according to Joni B Cole, and indeed a lot of other people who offer writing advice.

Words matter: A week best expressed through poetry

America’s first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, carried the day on Wednesday, summing up the feelings that I suspect I share with many of you, as well as how effective the distillation of language into poetry can help us better grasp the essence of what we’re experiencing.

Hypotheses: Introduction & selection of articles

A discussion of the hypothesis fits with this month’s focus on research questions and initial stages of design. Let’s start with a basic introduction by Malcolm Williams from The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods. Following this explanation, find a multidisciplinary selection of open access articles about hypotheses and research design.

Using ethnographic field notes in the actual writing of a paper

A scholar from the global south asked me recently for references or some help on how to use ethnographic field notes in the actual writing of a paper, and how they should be reported (that is, how we can use the material we write in a fieldwork notebook in the actual writing of a manuscript). Interestingly, most of the work I’ve read on field notes is on “how to craft them” and “how to analyze them”, not on “how to report them” or how to use them to write a readable output.

Facilitating group discussions with participants on Zoom

I am a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and my research explores how children aged seven to 10 engage with collective biographies about women published since 2016. Like many researchers, the social distancing measures implemented as a result of Covid-19 required that I re-design my study. As I was unable to spend time with children in educational settings, part of my redesigned project involved using Zoom to conduct individual interviews and reading sessions. Here, I reflect upon some of the challenges of facilitating group discussions in the reading sessions and offer ten suggestions for practice.

Should academic publishing intersect with social justice issues?

It’s a conversation many of us who have been mentored in our professional lives may have had, as young practitioners: Be careful about mixing the personal and the professional. Make sure there are boundaries. Try and be a bit more detached. But in more recent years, the advent of postmodern thought has given rise to what people call ‘mesearch’ (or, more academically, autoethnography) – when a researcher uses their personal experiences to tackle academic questions.

Citing software in scholarly publishing to improve reproducibility, reuse, and credit

Software is essential to research, and is regularly an element of the work described in scholarly articles. However, these articles often don’t properly cite the software, leading to problems finding and accessing it, which in turns leads to problems with reproducibility, reuse, and proper credit for the software’s developers.

Publishing pitfalls

Erin Roberts joins us for our third installment in Brandon’s business-of-writing series. In this episode we’re covering pitfalls and common problems—including some predatory practices—for you to be on the lookout for while you develop your career as a writer.

If you want to do a TEDx talk, start preparing now

I have long thought about doing a TED or a TEDx talk. (TEDx events are independently organized TED events.) Thus, when I heard of a local opportunity, I applied immediately. That was in February 2020.

Are things getting worse? Or is dystopia the new normal?

Things were already bad. You were already more tired than usual before the break. Maybe you’d just started getting your head around how to keep going in a pandemic, even if you didn’t like it much. You may wonder if it’s even reasonable to keep going in these circumstances. The answer is going to be different for everyone.

Pandemic perspectives: Updating “What will we learn about scholarly publishing as a result of COVID-19”

Back in early 2020, we didn’t have a clear picture of how long the COVID pandemic would extend, disrupting our personal, business, and academic lives. As we head into the midst of what are likely to be some of the toughest few months yet as the virus spreads more rapidly and vaccine access remains limited at best, I’ve invited the Chefs to revisit some of their posts from earlier in the pandemic, now that we have a longer view of how things have gone and where they’re going.