3 Tips for writing an effective figure caption

Research with figureIn a recent post on constructing effective tables and figures, I noted the need for figures to include captions that “succinctly describe the accompanying content.” In this post, we will discuss the purpose of captions and how to write one that is effective.

It is important to remember that figures should be clearly understood, even in isolation from the rest of the manuscript. The caption provides an opportunity for the author to provide context and connection to the rest of the article, as it relates to the visual element. [Read more…]

Time and friendship and writing

friendship and writingAs I’ve chosen to reduce socializing in favor of more writing time, I’ve also chosen to keep up or reconnect with a very few friends and realize an essential characteristic of friendship: time doesn’t matter. However long the moments, weeks, or years between contacts, real friendship knows no steel-banded boundaries of time, distance, erratic mobile phone connections, or sporadic emails.

I recall a friend of twenty years ago who lived nearby, and I still cherish our many calls and visits. When we both moved, our interests diverged, and contact ended. [Read more…]

7 Tips for constructing effective tables and figures

Figures with writingIt’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and for this reason using visual elements within your manuscript can help to keep the writing concise and effective. But how can you be sure that the words conveyed are delivering the right message?

Below you will find seven tips for incorporating tables and figures into your work.

Use visuals that enhance the manuscript

Most scholars agree that if the idea conveyed by a table or figure can be done with a sentence or two, the visual is likely unnecessary and the concept should be written in paragraph form. For larger data sets, complex ideas, or schematics, however, the use of visuals can simplify the understanding and reduce the overall word count needed to convey the information. [Read more…]

10 Question conference retrospective: Views from a graduate student attendee

The Loretto Chapel

The Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, NM. Photo Credit: Susan W. Bontly

The Textbook & Academic Authors Association’s small, focused conference, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico June 15-16, was one of the most useful ones I have attended.  The cost was a really great deal considering all the valuable information provided by the presenters. As a first-time attendee and a graduate student, here my reflections on my experience.

1) What were some of the highlights and insights?

The presentations I attended were all on the Academic Track. The first day, I went to two sessions, and then I had three wonderfully inspiring mentoring sessions. I started with Dr. Meggin McIntosh (see more below) and then Dr. Katherine Landau Wright’s presentation, The Journal Article Writing MATE: A tool for beginners, which provided a very helpful tool for evaluating journal articles to use as models for writing and can also be used as a general article assessment or summarizing rubric. [Read more…]

4 Tips for writing a literature review

library stacksLiterature reviews are common elements in academic writing, found in dissertations or theses, but also in journal articles, book introductions, book chapters, and even course exercises. Despite its prevalence in academia, the process of writing a literature review is often daunting to an academic author.

In her recent TAA webinar, “Demystifying the Literature Review”, Dr. Daveena Tauber, founder of Scholar Studio, shared four tips that can make the process easier. [Read more…]

How to smash an unexpected block: When the writing’s going well

No negative thoughts allowedWe’ve all probably read articles about writer’s block that stumps and paralyzes, but several writers I know have experienced another unexpected and surprising block. One described it: “My fingers play the computer keyboard like a concert pianist, my pages pile up like gold. ‘Wow, I think, I’m gonna go all night!’”

Then he confessed, “‘Faster than a form rejection, more powerful than an editor’s frown, able to freeze me in a single flash, a horrible thought darkens my brain: I can’t stand it anymore!’”

What? The writing was going just too well. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: May 11, 2018

"You're writing someones 'future' favorite book." ~M. KirinOne thing’s for certain in life. The future is always unwritten. No matter the past experiences or institutional standards, we must change, adapt, and grow with each day – and our writing must as well.

This week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with writing habits, creative research methods, practices for overcoming writer’s block, and ways to evaluate data sources. It continues with exploration of fears and uncertainties related to sharing grant applications and pursuing a PhD as a single parent. Finally, we close with considerations of changes in subscription models, including cancellations of traditional journal subscriptions by universities, and the impact of recent changes in how Facebook is sharing data with the research community.

M. Kirin reminds all authors that “you’re writing someone’s ‘future’ favorite book.” Despite any challenges, fear, anxieties, or past experiences, I hope this week you can focus on the future and share your message through your writing. [Read more…]

How to avoid the need to secure permission

Guide to Rights Clearance & Permissions in Scholarly, Educational, and Trade PublishingMaybe it was something you saw in a magazine or at a bookstore. Maybe it was something you saw online. Maybe it was something that caught your eye in a grant application or proposal…a good idea in poorly skilled hands seemingly not up to the task. In any event, wherever you first saw it, it inspired you to develop and publish your own article or book on the subject.

Anyone who has worked in an intellectual or creative endeavor knows that many new works build to one degree or another on the earlier work of others. But getting a head start by leveraging the intellectual work product of another is potentially problematic. When does inspiration cross over into infringement or a breach of scholarly integrity? The lawyer’s answer is: it depends. [Read more…]

Your writing accountability partner this summer: The TAA Writing Gym

Writing GymFlex your writing muscles in the TAA Writing Gym. This 6-week work-out-on-your-own gym time will serve as your writing accountability partner as you work to achieve your writing goals. The gym is free with your TAA membership, and is open to those writing textbooks, scholarly journal articles, and dissertations.

The gym will be open 24 hours from July 16-August 26, 2018. The deadline for signing up is July 9. [Read more…]

5/1 TAA Webinar: ‘Demystifying the Literature Review’

Literature reviews are one of the more challenging genres of academic writing. Join us Tuesday, May 1, 3-4 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar, “Demystifying the Literature Review”, presented by Dr. Daveena Tauber, Founder of ScholarStudio, to talk about strategies for reading, making sense of, and writing about the literature. Whether you’re writing a literature review for a dissertation, an article, or the introduction to your book, you won’t want to miss this rare opportunity to get clarity on this important part of your project. This webinar will help you understand not only what it means to synthesize the literature, but will also give you tools for doing it.  [Read more…]