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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 29, 2021

“Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back.” ~Chinese proverbThere’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back.” Whether advancing our field of research or honing our craft as an academic author, the goal for each of us should be one of continuous learning and advancement. This may involve learning new skills, changing our perspective, revisiting things that have worked in the past, or exploring challenges and setbacks as opportunities.

In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we find advice on all of these aspects of advancement. We begin with advice for those new to essay writing and a method for skimming articles and note taking that can benefit even experienced students and authors. We then look at identifying our perspective on research questions, revisiting the tools that have been successful in the past, and the benefits of academic reading groups. Finally, we identify challenges associated with different styles of writing, setbacks and mistakes, COVID-19, and digital services provided by publishers and academic libraries.

As you face new challenges in the week ahead, look at them as opportunities for advancement. Keep moving forward even if you feel like you’re fighting the current. It’s the only way to avoid dropping back. Happy writing!

How to write a persuasive college essay or scholarship

Whereas essay writing is a huge project, there are several options a student can take to decompose the task into smaller and manageable parts. Students, who follow these steps, find it easier to draft successful essays regardless of the purpose.

Skimming articles using the AIC (abstract, introduction, conclusion) method, plus an AIC -> synthetic note template for undergraduates (and graduates!)

Two of my favourite scholars, Dr. Heather Smith and Dr. Eugene McCann (whom I have admired independently for a very long time, even before I became friends with both of them) recently asked me if I had some sort of easy-to-read-and-implement guide and/or template for undergraduate (pre-graduate school, post-grade 9, basically, baccaleaurate candidates) students. Because I am someone who loves helping dear friends (and I need more content for undergraduate students!), I decided to write a Twitter thread and a blog post and develop a template to put my AIC Content Extraction Method to good use and help undergraduate students ask the right questions and create a Synthetic Note based on their AIC skim read.

Research questions: inside/out

Are you formulating questions based on your understanding or experience with the problem? Or are you formulating questions based on what you have learned from studying past scholarship about the problem presented in the literature? There is not a right or wrong answer to this question about what are commonly called insider or outsider positions. The important point is to be self-aware and transparent about your position, and how it influences your research design decisions.

The tools that got you there

Wondering why a change you made has no longer “stuck”? Consider if you are still using the tools that supported the change.

Reading groups/journal clubs are a good idea

There’s a lot written about the benefits of academic writing groups, writing rooms and writing retreats. But not so much about academic reading groups. And yet, they can be just as beneficial.

How to write a compelling TEDx script: Revise, get feedback, repeat

As an academic, writing a TEDx script is like exercising a whole new muscle. I write all the time but had never done this particular form of writing. Learning how to do this well took a lot of time and feedback. Thus, I did something I have never done before: I got a speaking coach who read and listened to multiple drafts.

Turn your author failures, setbacks, and mistakes into success with Joanna Penn and Orna Ross

We all experience failures, setbacks, and mistakes on the author journey — but if we learn from them, they can be the basis for our greatest success. In this episode, Orna Ross and Joanna Penn share their biggest mistakes, failures, and setbacks as well as lessons learned.

COVID, publishing and the future

The surprises from COVID-19 aren’t always unwelcome ones. The arrival of effective vaccines is one such miracle. The good health of the publishing industry is yet another – at least for now.

Publishers still don’t prioritize researchers

In a talk I gave at Frankfurt in fall 2015, I led publishing executives on a painstaking tour of my poor experience using the digital services provided by scholarly publishers and academic libraries. My goal was to provide a wake-up call that would establish the need to collaborate in more strategic and user-centered fashions. Now, five years later, I want to review some areas where publishers continue to fall short.