A Short Conference Recap from a TAA Staff Member’s First-Time Perspective

By Sierra Pawlak

The 2024 TAA Conference in Nashville was my first conference as a new TAA staff member, and I was not alone. There were another 37 textbook and/or academic authors who attended for the first time.

The Thursday night TAA Council of Fellows networking reception felt so welcoming. You could walk up to any table, and you would be included into the conversation. I hope everyone else shared that experience. There was an overwhelming agreement that the food was delicious, and that the rooftop Pool Club Restaurant in which it was held was a beautiful space with expansive views of Nashville. I loved meeting everyone, and it made me excited to serve as a session moderator on Friday.

How the TAA Conference Creates Happiness in Your Professional Life

By Angelica Ribeiro, PhD

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky points out that about 40 percent of our happiness comes from intentional activities. She writes, “Our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find ourselves” (Lyubomirsky, 2008, p. 64). That means we can create happiness by being mindful of our actions. Regarding our professional lives, one action we can take is to attend conferences related to our fields, such as the TAA conference.

After attending the TAA conference in Nashville, I realized that it goes beyond simply providing a platform for people to share knowledge. It encourages attendees to engage in what Lyubomirsky (2008) calls “happiness activities.”

More Takeaways and ‘Aha’ Moments From 2024 TAA Conference Attendees

The following takeaways and “aha” moments were shared at the end of the Saturday Author Talk session at the 2024 TAA Conference in Nashville June 22:

“Writing is thinking. Remember that one small step can change your life.” – Qian Ji

“I learned two things that were somehow in opposition to one another. The first one is: The journal article is not ‘about’ the data, it is about the story, and the data is there to give support to the story. The second one is: Don’t impose a theme on the evidence, let the theme emerge from the evidence.” – Serena De Stefani

Takeaways, ‘Aha’ Moments from 2024 TAA Conference

In a survey of attendees of the 2024 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, which take place in Nashville June 21-22, several shared share a piece of advice, a takeaway, or “aha” moment they had while attending:

  • “The simple reminders about writing, with the focus on generating to make progress rather than getting caught up in the editing process.”
  • “The power of journaling and the affirmation that I have something to contribute to the field.”
  • “I learnt the importance of peer review and how essential it is in publication.”

2024 TAA Post-Conference Survey: Majority of Respondents ‘Very Satisfied’ With Experience

In a survey sent to attendees of TAA’s 2024 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, which took place in Nashville June 21-22, the majority of respondents (91.49%) said they were very satisfied with their conference experience. Eight-and-a-half percent said they were satisfied and no one said they were dissatisfied.

A little over 38 percent of respondents said they participated in 10 or more sessions, with 28 percent reporting they participated in 7-9 sessions, and 32 percent saying they participated in 4-6 sessions. Sixty-eight percent of respondents rated the sessions very high quality, with 30 percent rating them high quality. No one rated them low or very low quality.

Academese: Are You Narrowing Your Audience By Not Speaking Their Language?

By Sierra Pawlak

During TAA’s May 2024 Conversation Circle, several members shared their experiences with ‘academese’ and tips for how academic writers can avoid it in their writing. Academese is characterized by writing that is heavily filled with jargon, overcomplicated language, and/or convoluted sentence structure (Wikipedia).

“The biggest sin in academic writing is the passive voice,” said Barbara Nostrand, an Aquisitions Editor at Gakumon and Senior Fellow at the de Moivre Institute. “It makes it much more difficult for the reader to understand what’s been written, and it’s completely unnecessary.” She recommends using the active voice instead, for example, ‘I saw’, ‘I observed’: “A trick to doing that is to move the verb as close to the beginning of the sentence as possible.” She recommends that people read “The Art Of Readable Writing” by Rudolf Flesch: “An important tip from that book, put yourself and your team into your writing. Begin sentences with words such as I, we, and the names of specific people.” Nostrand also recommended sentences be as short as possible, and no longer than twenty words. “Every generation of writers since Shakespeare has written shorter sentences than their forebears,” said Nostrand. “Motion picture shots have also been getting shorter and shorter.” Nostrand also said to “not be afraid of technical terms,” but that you should define jargon that your intended audience shouldn’t be expected to know.