Distinguishing features of academic writing #2: Complexity

complexityAlbert Einstein is credited with saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If this is true, why does it seem that academic writing is distinguished by complexity?

In this second discussion on the distinguishing features of academic writing, we aimed to understand why complexity is not only present, but acceptable in academic writing, and the challenges and benefits of reducing complexity while maintaining academic rigor. [Read more…]

Distinguishing features of academic writing #1: Precision

precision - pencil line being drawn with ruler on paperDuring the course of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) in November 2019, we explored five distinguishing features of academic writing – the first of which being precision.

What does it mean to write with academic precision? In this article, we recap the event where we sought the answer to this question. During the discussion, we also explored the importance of academic precision and the effects of word choice, active voice, redundancy, and organization on the goal of precision in our manuscripts. [Read more…]

4 Paths to writing productivity and publication success

writing successIn his 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Organizing for Writing Productivity and Publication Success”, history author Kenneth Campbell shared organizational advice and tips based on his personal writing experience.  

Specifically, Campbell offered strategies and techniques for research and writing, time management, working with editors and publishers, and responding to peer review criticisms throughout the writing process. In conclusion, he encouraged participants to “focus on the contribution you are making to educating and enriching the lives of others” if the goal is success. [Read more…]

Finding your writing niche

Writing is like growing up. From babyhood, we learn to crawl (= write junk), wobble half-upright (= write a little less junk), walk in spurts (= write much less junk), run a little (= write more of what really is us), and finally gain balance to walk and run at will (= write in our true voice).

In life, if we could jump into adulthood from childhood or even early adolescence without living through each previous stage, we’d save much time and angst. In writing too, imagine learning enough from watching, reading, and hearing about others’ experiences, mistakes, misguided decisions, and failings so we wouldn’t have to experience them at all. But, unfortunately or fortunately, we have to experience it all. [Read more…]

7 Ways to maintain a writing practice between academic terms

live. breathe. create.During our final #AcWriChat TweetChat event of 2019 on Twitter, December 13th, we focused our discussion on ways to maintain a writing practice between academic terms. Now in the final week of the year, amidst the holiday season, in the middle of most academic breaks, we wanted to share the list of TAA article resources included in that event.  

If you’re looking for a little inspiration to boost your productivity, adjust your routine, focus on your writing efforts, or enjoy a little break from the academic term, there’s surely something below for you in these seven ways to maintain a writing practice between academic terms. [Read more…]

Take some time away from work to work

Take some time away from work to workWe often think of the December-January holiday break as the midpoint of the academic year. Faculty need recuperative time to gear up for the semester or term, for course planning, fine-tuning, or writing syllabi.

But, what about your own writing projects? In early December, many of my clients need to step away from their daily writing practice to dive into their grading, with final grade deadlines looming. We talk about scheduling for the first week of January, and then we talk about how it will be more likely the second week of January before they sit down to begin writing again. In fact, I start to get a little nervous for them, because I know that come the second week of January, for many of them, the course planning and syllabus fine-tuning will take place that did not happen after the grading in December. And, that is okay. I get it.

However, as you look ahead to classes beginning again in mid-to-late January, what about your own writing? Does it stress you out? If it does, let’s do this instead. [Read more…]

Cultivating your writing garden

cultivate your gardenI admit to being addicted to quotes. I have kept a list for years and it grows with each book I read. “Let us cultivate our garden,” is a well-known aphorism by Voltaire. It applies to so many areas of life: relationships, work, gardening, and of course, writing.

Quite a few authors or would-be authors I speak with feel unsure or uncertain about their writing and editing skills. I get it. Most authors have spent years honing their content mastery and little of their precious “free time” on becoming better writers or editors. [Read more…]

On plagiarism

Plagiarism: Getting in trouble for something you didn't doYears ago now, when I worked at the Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan, we hosted a large conference called, “Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism,” to place “plagiarism in dialogue with notions of originality and imitation” (3) [1]. In the years since, as I work with departments to integrate writing across the disciplines and with graduate students and faculty to publish in their fields, I find myself continuing to think about how we can do a better job teaching these three cornerstones. [Read more…]

Revising academic texts: Efficiency & style

KaizenKaizen – translated to mean a change for the good – is Erin McTigue’s word of the year and the guiding principle behind her 2019 TAA Conference Presentation, “Revising Academic Texts: Efficiency & Style”.

Delivering a dynamic and interactive session, McTigue shared useful strategies to improve the flow and readability of your writing efforts through effective revision. Below we summarize six of those techniques that you can apply to your current manuscript to make your own change for the good. [Read more…]

The changing nature of ye olde academic writing

classic booksLikely we all remember Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. It was written in the late 1300’s in Middle English. Here are the first few lines:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,    

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,        

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;          

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

I am sure we are all flashing back to high school and suffering though this classic long work. Most of us read an updated version written in modern English, thankfully. Likely you remember the discussion of the evolution of language. [Read more…]