President’s Message: Doing the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion

I once again find myself writing about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in textbooks. Not because I am—or feel myself to be—an expert in any aspect of DEI. Far from it. I am writing again because these concerns continue to weigh on me.

As a textbook author, I have a grave responsibility that goes beyond the obvious promise to deliver useful content for learning my subject. It is not only my descriptions and explanations and examples that affect my users—it is also the voice and vision that comes through those written words.

Inclusion means including everyone

As authors who have recommitted ourselves to the ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our professional lives, one of the many struggles we face is making access to our content inclusive. However inclusive of race, gender, age, and other aspects of humanity our writing is, it is important to also ask ourselves whether all potential readers are able to access it.

As an author, I have often left accessibility issues completely in the hands the professionals among our publishing team. However, I realize more and more that, in many ways, that sort of inclusion starts with me.

Academic podcasting: The time is now

Podcasting is an easily produced, but powerful, medium to connect with potential or current textbook users, scholars in your discipline niche, readers of your work, and potential consulting clients. It can extend your brand and expand your professional network.

I have been mentioning in TAA media that now is great time—the very best time—to start an academic podcast. A hundred thousand new podcasts are being launched each month and podcast listenership is growing rapidly as mobile devices add native podcast apps, and platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and Audible add podcasts to their offerings. We are just now at the point where “start a podcast” is about to overtake “start a blog” as a search term in Google Trends.

Reflecting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our publications

I’ll never forget that encounter I had with Kathy a number of years ago. Kathy and I are friends now, but I’d never met her before that moment when she introduced herself at our annual anatomy and physiology (A&P) teaching conference. She asked if I had a moment to chat about how illustrations are chosen for textbooks. As you can imagine, I love talking about the process of creating textbooks, so we stepped aside for a quick chat.

It turns out that she was chatting up as many A&P textbook authors as she could, including a few other TAA members, with a question that stemmed from her interest in diversity issues. Kathy wanted to know about the illustration process because she wanted to know why women and other groups were underrepresented.

Preparing for ripples, waves, and tsunamis in textbook and academic publishing

Kevin PattonRecently, we’ve seen shifts from print to digital, the rise of open educational resources and open-access journals, the consolidation of large publishers into mega-publishers, fundamental changes in how authors are compensated, and other significant changes to the nature of authoring. As we wait to see which of the ripples coming over the horizon dissipate and which become large—perhaps overwhelming—waves, what can we authors do to remain afloat?

Three main strategies can help academic and textbook authors continue to succeed as changes in textbooks, journals, or scholarly publications come along: vigilance, honing core skills, and agility.

Podcasting for academic authors: A ‘brand’ new experience

Academic authors do what we can to take charge of defining the perception of ourselves and our own work among our professional circle and potential future associates. We know that just leaving it to others to define us may send the wrong message—or worse, it may go nowhere at all. This process of professional branding can involve a lot of different strategies, but the one I’ll focus on now is podcasting.

Podcasting is simply distributing digital audio files widely over the internet. It’s been around for decades, but only recently has caught a wind and is steadily becoming a mainstream source of news and entertainment. Podcasts are most often consumed on mobile devices, which allow listeners to enjoy their favorite episodes while they commute, walk the dog, or mow the lawn.