Collaborating across differences: Reflect on writing habits in co-author processes

Most research and academic writers today produce publications within co-author relationships—making collaborative writing a key feature of our professional lives. In their recent study of team science, Barry Bozeman and Jan Youtie determined that more than 90% of sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) publications are co-authored (Strength in Numbers 2020). Even in historically single-author fields like mine, writing studies, co-authorship is on the rise.

This revolution in co-production of publications means that individual writers must both learn the craft of writing but also the art of writing in relationship with others.

Collaborating across differences: Build writing relationships with co-author agreements

I had a conversation with a senior colleague recently about the purpose and value of co-author agreements in collaborative writing projects. He and I talk regularly about research and writing but had not touched on the nature of “agreements” in collaborations. He has built his career in a scientific field where co-authors are the norm, and the majority of his publications included graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or government agency researchers as collaborators.

The what, why, and how of an author promotional platform

All textbook, book, and monograph authors need a platform to help sell their idea to a publisher and their work to buyers and readers. Gone are the days that an author can ignore marketing.

What is an author promotional platform? Why should you care? How do you create one? And how do you keep it going? These are the central questions answered by publishing consultant, John Bond during his 2021 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation.

Are you older than your professors? There’s hope

I immediately recognized Marlene’s voice on the phone. She was one of the brightest and most conscientious doctoral students I have ever served in my academic coaching and editing practice. An older student, “nontraditional,” Marlene had returned for her doctorate after three of her four kids were grown and on their own. She held down a full-time job in medical billing, and her youngest was now in high school, so Marlene embarked on a lifelong dream—she enrolled in a doctoral program. We were working together on the first of her course papers.

But now, instead of greeting me, Marlene fumed for ten minutes. Her professor had track-changed almost every page of her essay and added a four-paragraph single-spaced memo stuffed with questions. Marlene shouted over the phone, “I’m calling the doctoral police!”

Crafting compelling and purposeful titles: A five step process

Although 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.

Are you stalling by revising too soon?

When 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.