Academic writers tackle social issues

Social IssuesWhether the discussion is about changes to our global climate or our cultural climate, the dominance of uninformed opinions can aggravate those of us who want to see the need for evidence derived from empirical research.

Academic writing for social good supports efforts for change to improve the well-being of people in our communities or around the world. While we might hope that all academic writing has potential to benefit society, the kinds of writing we are considering here have an intentional purpose. In a TAA webinar offered last year, Lynn Wilson and I discussed four ways that scholars and researchers can frame their writing. (View the recording here.) Let’s look at each one. [Read more…]

How to actually complete your writing projects: One bite at a time

elephantIn her 2018 TAA Conference presentation, “Hunks, Chunks, & Bites: Plan Writing Projects So You Actually Complete Them!”, Meggin McIntosh shared some practical advice on tackling projects in a way that gets them done.

According to McIntosh, academics have between 20 and 50+ writing projects at any given time, but “people don’t do projects.” Projects can be broken into hunks, but you don’t do hunks. Hunks can be broken into chunks, but you don’t do chunks. Chunks can be broken into bites. You do bites! Here’s how. [Read more…]

Three unmistakable signs you need to revise

revisionBetween bouts of hating what we write, we may secretly admire our creations. And we’re entitled to. But there’s a difference between these feelings and excessive love of our own words. Such love blinds us to editorial blunders, judicious cutting, and revision, and reduces the possibilities of publication. [Read more…]

The top 9 myths about OER publishing

Questions and answersIn a recent blog post, we explored some of the questions authors are asking about open textbooks. In this post we have continued the discussion with several leaders in the open textbook movement to identify some of the common misconceptions associated with open educational resources (OER) publishing.

Below, Barbara Illowsky (co-author of one of the first open textbooks, Introductory Statistics), Amy Hofer (Open Oregon Educational Resources), Apurva Ashok and Zoe Wake Hyde (Rebus Foundation), and Nicole Finkbeiner (OpenStax, Rice University), share the top nine myths they have identified, and the facts related to each. [Read more…]

Dear dissertation advisers: Make sure student has defined the research purpose and question

Disseration adviceDefining a good research question is crucial to developing a successful research project, and it is no easy task. For some, defining a good question comes easily, but for many, especially doctoral candidates who may have never developed their own research project before, it is a great hurdle. And, as I suggested in the previous post, if the research purpose and question aren’t defined, then there’s no point in your looking at other stuff: if your student hasn’t defined the research purpose clearly, they’ll have trouble making progress.

A good definition of research question or purpose is not only crucial, it’s usually really easy for a reader to find in skimming through a paper. Most drafts have several sentences that say things like “the purpose of this research is…” and “the research question is…”. These sentences need to be clear, and they need to agree with each other (multiple conflicting statements of purpose can often be found in early drafts of research). [Read more…]

Is open access publishing where you want to see your work? Questions to ask yourself and best practices

During their 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “A New Publishing Landscape: Open Access,” Kristen Cvancara, Laura Jacobi, and Heidi Southworth shared curiosities, opportunities, and pitfalls of open access publishing. For those curious about how their work may fit in the open access publishing landscape, the panel encouraged conducting a self-assessment and getting feedback from others first. For when you’re ready to explore open access publishing, they shared best practices as well. [Read more…]

Do you need a literary agent?

Fancy lunchLiterary agents conjure up so many images in the book culture. Two of the most common ones might be fabulous lunches at expensive New York restaurants or excited phone calls about a book auction. Let’s dive into what a literary agent is and examine if you need one.

A literary agent (let’s just call them agent from here on out) represents writers and their written works to publishers. They assist in the sale and negotiation between the writer and the publisher. They are not editors or publishers. They prefer your work to be in its final form or very close to it. [Read more…]

4 Principles of academic revisions

Academic revisionA recent visitor to the TAA website communicating with us over chat said: “I would like to know some academic principles we can use for revisions.”

As authors, revisions can be one of the most challenging parts of the writing process. Most writers create easily but find it difficult to critique and edit their own work. Regardless, the revision process is essential for producing polished and effective manuscripts.

Short of hiring a professional editor to review your work and offer guidance on needed revisions, here are four principles you can use when revising your academic work. [Read more…]

10/11 TAA Webinar: ‘The Joys and Agony of Co-Authoring: Practical and Legal Tips from Two Author-Lawyers’

Karen Morris and Sten SligerCoauthors Karen Morris, a seasoned author and lawyer, and Sten Sliger, a new author and lawyer, will share best practices for finding, vetting, contracting, and working with coauthors, during their TAA webinar, “The Joys and Agony of Co-Authoring: Practical and Legal Tips from Two Author-Lawyers,” on Thursday, October 11 from 3-4 p.m. ET. Register today! [Read more…]

Communicate visually to engage readers!

Examples of VisualsKress and others observe that a shift we are witnessing from words to pictures is interrelated with a shift from print to digital. This shift means movement from an emphasis on written communication to an emphasis on images and media. At the same time, it represents a move from the printed publication to the screen.

As academic writers, we need to rethink our attachment to the words, and look for new ways to communicate visually in books, articles, and ancillary resources. We also need to update our promotional and social media materials to attract attention in an information-overload environment.

One way is to use diagrams, visual maps, or illustrations to concisely communicate important ideas and key relationships. Another way is to show ways the ideas or problems are demonstrated in real situations. [Read more…]