Crafting compelling and purposeful titles: A five step process

Light bulb thinkingAlthough the old adage states “you can’t tell a book by its cover”, in academic writing it is crucial that the title of an article or book “tell” the essence of the work. The title is the first critical decision point for a reader. Its goal is to invite the reader to peruse the abstract, read the article, and, hopefully, cite your work.

The title does a lot of work for your manuscript, and there are many good reasons to pay attention to crafting short, content-rich, and engaging titles. First, for you, the author, spending time crafting a title forces you to distill your detailed, multi-page manuscript into 10 to 15 words, a daunting task. Yet, through this process you can gain clarity on your topic, enabling you to hone your discussion points and potentially your writing as well. [Read more…]

Are you stalling by revising too soon?

writing linesWhen we’ve squeezed out a few sentences, a paragraph, or page of the first draft of our current writing project, in our elation we may be tempted to go back and revise. The pull to polish is irresistible. So, we revisit those hard-won sentences and baby them into perfection. Then we sit back and bask with satisfaction.

But what do we have? Admittedly, a start, but really just a few sentences. We know we should have kept going with the fearsome task of confronting the blankness, but we yield. And often, our excitement in starting the piece dissipates, like steam out the open window. We sit there, staring or sighing, get up, and walk away to do something that eats into our writing time. [Read more…]

Project management: Two free tools to increase efficiency in your writing projects

Project management was originally developed for civil engineering, but even if you are writing a book instead of building a bridge, there are useful approaches to borrow that will improve your work flow. In a previous article, I described that within project management, tools can be roughly divided into “project definition tools” and “implementation tools.” Project definition tools are those that help you determine the scope, the tasks, and the budget (i.e., time), whereas implementation tools are those that help you conduct the work. Here, I focus on the latter, and present two tools from the lens of project management for writing. [Read more…]

Busy TAA People: Steve Barkan

Critical CriminologySteven BarkanAn article by TAA member and former Council President Steve Barkan, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at UMaine, and Michael Rocque, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bates College and a UMaine sociology alumnus, received the 2020 Outstanding Contribution Award from the Division of Biopsychosocial Criminology of the American Society of Criminology.

The article, published in Critical Criminology in 2018, is entitled, “Socioeconomic Status and Racism as Fundamental Causes of Street Criminality” [26(2):211-231]

The Award recognizes an outstanding contribution (journal article or book) in the field of biopsychosocial criminology by a scholar who has completed their Ph.D.

Round up all those stampeding ideas

lots of ideasDo ideas flood your brain like a herd gone wild? Do you flail around, physically and metaphorically, trying to corral them and drive them into the barn? Are you going mad trying to figure out how to use them all?

I am almost constantly barraged by ideas for essays, stories, poems, novel slivers, quirky descriptions, and metaphoric pearls. Ideas surface everywhere: as I edit clients’ manuscripts, wash dishes, huff through workouts, wait on line, watch people, meditate, fall asleep, and even during tactful small talk at business dinners.

All the deluging ideas used to make me groan. Sometimes I’d even feel envious of writers who complained about their sparse fits of inspiration. I’d grouse internally that my ideas never seemed to stop. How would I ever get to them all, much less organize them or make something of them? Most would end up in a mass of ragged notes or on scraps stuffed under the scanner. [Read more…]

Fine-tune your writing productivity with four Scholar Actions©

Writing and publishing are not the sole definition of an academic scholar, but these two activities are major roles that faculty fulfill. Academic writing and publishing are also primary expectations for career advancement, including the dissertation writing process. At each major point along the career trajectory of a faculty member—from assistant to associate to full—academic writing and publishing are there. Even in my role as an administrator, I continue to write and publish as well as mentor others through the process.

Over the years, I have developed my scholarly voice through my writing and publishing, but I still continue to develop my practice. I am a work in progress. But how did I come to this developing as a scholar? It is quite simple in some ways. I developed good habits to support my writing and learned the process of academic publishing early in my career. [Read more…]

Manuscript matchmaking: Finding a home for your article 

With so many options, finding the right home for your manuscript can seem daunting. However, with a few useful tools, you can quickly and confidently locate publication venues appropriate for your work. In this article, you’ll be introduced to two such tools: Scopus Sources and the Web of Science Master Journal List.

Free to use, Scopus Sources allows authors to search for publications indexed in Scopus, an abstract and citation database from Elsevier. Scopus Sources is easy to search. Once you’ve performed a simple keyword search at the top of the page, you can refine your result list further by utilizing the limiters on the sidebar. For instance, you can limit by the open-access status of a publication, minimum number of citations, minimum number of documents, and by specific types of publications (such as journals, conference proceedings, etc.). [Read more…]

Copyright, Covid, and the Virtual Classroom

CopyrightWith the fall semester fast approaching, faculty are intensively preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year, in the face of continually changing information and circumstances. A number of our higher education clients have had questions about copyright issues relating to the transition of traditional in-person classes to online or hybrid formats. We have also been reviewing software agreements for various services that allow institutions to shift more of their offerings online. Here we discuss four common issues we have encountered. Although the answers are seldom black-and-white, we thought it would be useful to share some of the questions and possible approaches to them:

1) When can copyrighted third-party materials (including text, photographs, video, and music) be used without permission or licenses in online teaching activities? Can college libraries scan and provide digital access to print reserve materials? [Read more…]

TAA’s 2021 Conference Call for Proposals Is Open

TAA announces a Call for Proposals for its 34th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference which will be held June 18-19, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN. We invite the submission of presentations relevant to writing, publishing, and marketing textbooks and academic works (textbooks, academic books, journal articles, and monographs). Interactive, hands-on sessions are encouraged. The proposal deadline is October 7, 2020.

The conference will be held at the beautiful Conrad Indianapolis, a 5-Star hotel boasting a premier downtown Indianapolis location just two blocks from the capitol. A highly interactive event, the conference will be attended by authors and aspiring authors of textbooks, journal articles, and other academic works, as well as by industry professionals from across the country.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Time Management and Writing Productivity
  • Promoting Social Equity in Textbook and/or Academic Authoring
  • Publishing Industry Updates & Trends
  • Navigating Copyright and Permissions
  • Savvy Contract and Royalty Negotiating & Monitoring
  • Marketing Your Works and Creating Your Brand
  • Authoring in an Open Access/OER Environment
  • Non-Traditional Paths to Getting Published
  • Tech Tools to Enhance Your Works

Click here for detailed information on the selection process, submission guidelines, session formats, and the proposal form visit.

Crafting compelling conference proposals with the LASTT Model

Light bulbs with LASTT spelled outWhether you’re a seasoned scholar or you are just now embarking on your academic career, presenting at conferences can provide invaluable benefits and experience. For some, conference presentations are an important part of a well-rounded tenure and promotion portfolio. For others, these venues serve as a vital catalyst for connection and collaboration. Yet, despite the numerous benefits of presenting, there’s relatively little guidance on how to craft a compelling conference proposal.

Sure, there are scads of resources that promise to guide presenters through the process of assembling a knockout slide-deck or delivering a masterful speech. But what good are all of these resources if you can’t get out of the slush pile of proposals to begin with? To get on the program, you’ve got to get past the reviewers, and that’s no small feat. [Read more…]