Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 14, 2021

“If a seed of a lettuce will not grow, we do not blame the lettuce. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly.” ~Buddhist proverbHow often do we look at the results of our work with frustration, disappointment, or even anger at failed attempts? As another semester of teaching came to a close, I found myself once again with students who were not satisfied with their overall grade in the class, seeking ways to make up for lost time to get better results. The problem, however, is not with the results, but with the effort (or lack thereof) throughout the process.

An old Buddhist proverb says, “If a seed of a lettuce will not grow, we do not blame the lettuce. Instead, the fault lies with us for not having nourished the seed properly.” What are you doing during your writing process to nourish it in a way that produces the results you intend?

In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we see advice on making everything count, sharpening and revising our work, supporting peer review excellence, and using datasets to conduct research better. This week, focus on taking deliberate action at each step of the writing process to nourish your work in the direction of your future goals. Happy writing! [Read more…]

4 Steps to developing an effective textbook chapter

climbing a mountainThinking about writing a textbook can be much like planning to climb a mountain. A daunting task that may be overwhelming and requires both endurance and strength before even getting started. 

As we prepare to climb the mountain, however, we’re going to focus on taking it one step at a time. Relating this to textbook authoring, the steps in the development of chapters involves the creation of carefully crafted headings specific to pre-defined topics that are thoughtfully enhanced by pairing content with feature strands to engage the reader and exercises which reinforce learning located within or at the end of the chapter.

Ultimately this process organizes our material into an effective table of contents built from continually applying this cycle of steps until every chapter in our textbook is properly developed and placed in the book. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 7, 2021

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” ~C.S. LewisAcademia serves a purpose of feeding the future, of taking minds with a limited set of knowledge and helping them realize that while they may have a perspective of vast understanding, the potential for growth and development of their understanding exists in a limitless amount of barren space. It is from this mindset that I believe C.S. Lewis claimed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

I have read that quote numerous times, and as an educator and author myself, taught and thought from the perspective that in a world of information overload, we are in a different era than Lewis and have a new responsibility of cutting down jungles to help our students see clearly. As I write this week’s article and review the resources shared below, I instead think that our job, particularly as textbook and academic authors, must be to take our readers to the edge of the jungle, show them the desert that exists beyond that edge, and then irrigate it so that the jungle of knowledge continues to expand even further for the next generation of students and educators.

As you write this week, I challenge you to find the edge of your field of knowledge, to irrigate your own deserted landscape of potential, and to find ways through your writing to bring others to that point. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Welcome new members to TAA: April 2021

Welcome to TAAWith membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 70 new TAA members who joined us in April 2021.  [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 30, 2021

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” ~Alexandra K. TrenforAlexandra K. Trenfor once said, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” Life, especially in academic settings, is about seeking knowledge, exploring possibilities, and making our own unique discoveries. Textbook and academic authoring provides an outlet for us to share those discoveries with others to fuel their own journeys.

In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we have some things worth looking at to see where they may fit your current and future needs as an author. These include developing a social media strategy, post-doctoral pursuits, saying “no”, data collection, licensing, editing, and open access opportunities.

Be on the lookout this week for teachers, whether people, places, or simply ideas that can guide where you look next and find out what you see as a result. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 23, 2021

“To teach is to learn twice.” ~Joseph JoubertOne of the most unique and rewarding features of textbook and academic authoring compared to other genres is the intentional sharing of learned knowledge with others through our writing. In addition to authoring, I have had the opportunity to teach college level courses for nearly two decades and continue to be amazed at how much I learn with each class I teach and with each book or article I write.

This week is no exception as the preparation of this article has opened my eyes to a citation revision strategy, improving conceptual framework development through theoretical alignment, and new opportunities in publishing through the pandemic, in the digital age, for dissertation publication, and in self-publishing and open access arenas.

Joseph Joubert said, “To teach is to learn twice.” This week I challenge you to learn something new (or learn something old in a new way) and then teach it through your writing so you get to learn it again through your own voice. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Busy TAA People: Richard Mullins

Rick MullinsOrganic Chemistry: A Learner-Centered ApproachTAA member, Richard J. Mullins is “finally a published textbook author” having published Organic Chemistry: A Learner-Centered Approach with Pearson Education. First printed in March 2021, the book will be used by students this fall, says Mullins, Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Xavier University.

According to Mullins:

“Whereas other organic chemistry books are written to be encyclopedic references about organic chemistry, this book was written to teach students how to learn organic chemistry without sacrificing the necessary rigor. [Read more…]

Mentoring appointments available at the 2021 Virtual Conference

2021 Virtual Conference LogoEarly registration is now open for TAA’s 2021 Virtual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference! Our annual conference event is always an incredible opportunity to network with authors from a variety of disciplines and to learn about the latest trends, best practices, and industry changes.

In addition, conference-goers have the opportunity to sign up for 15-minute sessions with experienced members who are serving as mentors in a dozen areas of interest. Mentor registration is now open. A preview of the topics and associated mentors is below. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 16, 2021

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” ~Zig ZiglarAs we enter the back half of April, many of us in academia are finding students nearing the end of their academic term looking at their grades and considering what it will take to pass the class and avoid failure. Many of us, also as writers, may be facing deadlines or revisiting our goals and expectations for our writing during the same time and feeling this same sense of success or failure in our own efforts.

The spirit of academia, of learning, and of writing is one of process more than events. While we often focus on the events that define the process – graduation, publication, even final grades or first drafts, we need to remember the words of Zig Ziglar who said, “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” Even when faced with events of failure, the process continues.

Our collection of articles this week includes processes of developing good habits, revising our writing (sometimes into multiple papers), defining the right methodology and tools for our studies, and exploring new opportunities along the way. Wherever you are in your process, keep your goal in mind. Treat failures as events and don’t lose sight of your process. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 9, 2021

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” ~Chinese ProverbAcademic and textbook authors are in a unique position of being both active learners and teachers (even if not in official teaching positions) through our writing. In order to make contributions to the field, we must continue to explore, learn, and grow in our discipline, but through our writing and contributions, we also write with the intention of teaching others.

This week’s collection of articles has some great resources for continuing to learn to be a stronger writer. We begin with designing an ethical study, overcoming writer’s block, taking notes, and mapping your research design. We then look at strengthening our manuscripts and the revision process. Finally, we explore industry trends of email newsletters, version of record, open access, and hybrid publishing.

A Chinese Proverb says, “Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” This week, I challenge you not only to continue opening doors for others through your written teachings, but also to find some new doors to enter yourself whether in your discipline or in your writing and publication processes. Happy writing! [Read more…]