The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: December 14, 2018

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." ~Jack CanfieldEndings can be challenging. Whether it’s the end of a project, the end of a semester, the end of a life phase, or even the end of a calendar year. What makes ending so difficult is often the uncertainty of what’s next rather than the closure of what has been.

This week’s collection of posts from around the web begins with an example of a fourth year PhD candidate working toward completion of the program and advice on transitioning between career or writing phases. It continues with guidance on how to start collaborative projects, a challenge to dance your PhD, and eight ways to write theory very badly. Finally, we close with the uncertainty of the publishing industry for textbook authors, an introduction to branding, and ways to work with contributing authors in an edited book.

As we approach the final few weeks of 2018, we encourage you to look back over the year and your accomplishments with your writing projects. Close off what has earned completion status in the weeks and months that have come to pass, and prepare yourself for all that 2019 has in store. Look at your next project, career opportunity, or calendar page with excitement rather than nervousness. After all, as Jack Canfield once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

Reflect and reboot

reflect and rebootIn my part of the world, the days are short and bright, and the nights are long and dark. Without the screen of leaves, without colors from leaves and flowers, the brilliant blue sky draws my attention. Along with these seasonal changes, we can’t help but notice that we’re on the last page of the calendar. This is a time for reflection.

Let’s face it, in the pre-smartphone days we had small reflective moments now fractured by sound bites and fragments of news or photos of elementary school friends’ new babies. How can we pull away long enough to reconsider the proverbial big picture? [Read more…]

Quandaries in your academic project? Use your inner mentor

you as academic mentorMost of us probably had mentors in graduate school and may still maintain contact with them. But they may not be available every time we need their advice or guidance. I suggest that we all have a mentor that is always available, night and day, every season and semester, for every situation and circumstance.

The IM

This is your Inner Mentor (IM), also called your inner guide, self, voice, spirit, higher power, soul, subconscious, guidance system, intuition, even your heart or gut. It has more power than your department or committee chair, the dean of your school, and even the guy who issues your annual parking sticker. [Read more…]

AcWriMo 2018: A month in review

typing on a laptopEach November since 2011, academic writers from around the world have committed themselves to a month of forward progress in their personal academic writing efforts through an event known as AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month). To achieve greater levels of accountability and connectedness with other academics, many take to Twitter and other social media outlets to share their plans, challenges, accomplishments, and resources using the hashtag #AcWriMo.

While originally inspired by the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) concept, AcWriMo does not share the objective of completing a single project (i.e. a novel) in the 30 calendar days of November, but rather provides a means for focusing individuals on their own academic writing project(s) during that time. If you participated in AcWriMo 2018, we’d love to hear about your accomplishments in the comments below. If not, perhaps you can gain some inspiration from the documented efforts of others shared in this article. [Read more…]

Early registration open for TAA’s 2019 Conference

Join us in Old City, Philadelphia for TAA’s 32nd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference. Early registration is now open!

TAA’s conference will be held on June 14-15 at the beautiful Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District Hotel. Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Old City, the neighborhood known as America’s most historic square mile, rich with treasures of American heritage, the Wyndham hotel sits adjacent to the historic Christ Church and Burial Ground, one block off charming Market Street, and within easy walking distance to Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Center, and the Betsy Ross House. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 30, 2018

"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with." ~William Faulkner“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” Wise words from William Faulkner frame our collection of posts from around the web this week.

We begin with a discussion of whether it’s acceptable to use first person in academic writing, the way that animals (our own or others) can support our academic journey, and a way to clearly express the collection of work we create. We then explore some of the things editors want and how to get to the end of our comfort zone to find our voice. We close our collection with an understanding of frameworks, publication strategies with tips from an editor, and the impact digital publishing is having on the scholarly publishing value chain.

If you dream of perfection, your work will certainly reach levels of greatness. So as you go through the next week, believe in yourself (even if you aren’t writing in first person), find your source of support, identify your goals, and stretch your comfort zone. Follow the standards or create new ways of thinking. Whatever you do, dream of perfection, and happy writing! [Read more…]

The stuff our books are made of – Part 1

dictionaryThere is terminological chaos in the education culture. Yes, this is about the words we use as authors. More specifically, it is about the language of instruction, not about cellulose and silicone.

As Aristotle put it,

“For as long as it is not clear in how many senses a term is used, it is possible that the answerer and the questioner are not directing their minds upon the same thing,… [and, therefore] It often happens that a difficulty is found in discussing or arguing a given position because the definition has not been correctly rendered.”

The stuff our books are made of is extremely important because classroom teachers rely instructionally on textbooks for engaging subject matter. [Read more…]

From solo to global: AcWriMo

acwrimo - Twitter Search - mapWriting is usually a solitary activity. Staring at our monitors or notebooks, we wonder: is this brilliant or nuts? Is this straightforward and clear, or so simplistic that the reader will yawn? Have we written something that will entice the reader to follow our train of thought, or will they jump off with the next distraction? The way novelist Helen Garner described her work as a writer resonates with me:

the absolute inability, while you are working, to judge whether or not what you are doing has any value at all– thus the blind faith and grim stubbornness required in order to keep going; the episodes of elation, the occasional sense of hitting your stride, or of being in tune with the force that creates–the feeling that now you’ve got it, now you can’t put a foot wrong… [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 9, 2018

"You can't think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block." ~John RogersJohn Rogers said, “You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” The ways in which we approach our academic writing impact the mindset that drives progress and success. In this week’s collection of articles from around the web, we have found several suggestions of ways to improve your writing practice that may just get you through your next “thinking block”.

First, we found examples of habits leading to writing productivity and satisfaction, and a connection between teaching, research, and writing. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 2, 2018

"I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." ~Shannon HaleAs we enter into Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)  2018, the focus of many is academic writing practices and ways to improve the results and experience of academic writing. At TAA, we will be maintaining a fundamental focus on academic writing this month around the theme of “The 5 W’s of Academic Writing“. It is therefore fitting that our collection of articles from around the web this week focuses also on such challenges and practices.

Our collection begins with the challenges of academic writing, revising with a reader in mind, and starting new research topics as a post-doc. We continue with topics of experimental control and collaboration with peers. Finally, we explore the wildcard of examination, a holistic publication strategy, and the ethics of conference speakers.

Wherever you are in your own writing process, we hope that you can find ways to build a stronger writing practice over the coming weeks. Shannon Hale once said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” So whether you are simply shoveling sand or finishing a castle, happy writing! [Read more…]