Eberhardt publishes in Journal of Virology

Meghan EberhardtTAA member Meghan Eberhardt was published as first author of a study entitled “Vaccination against a Virus-Encoded Cytokine Significantly Restricts Viral Challenge”, which appears in the November issue of the  Journal of Virology. The study involves an experimental vaccine against the cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection which proved safe and more effective than previous vaccines for the virus. Eberhardt recently received her Doctorate of Comparative Pathology from the University of California, Davis. With a research emphasis on virology and immunology, Eberhardt has published 8 peer-reviewed publications, two first author and six contributing author.

How to determine author order when collaborating with multiple authors

Determining author orderWhen multiple authors collaborate to write a journal article, the task of determining authorship order inevitably arises. In some situations, the order may be obvious, but in many cases, it can be difficult to decide, and having a plan in place to establish author order can help the process go more smoothly.

Collaborating authors are usually listed in order of the relative size of each author’s contribution to the article, but sometimes it can be a challenge to gauge the size or importance of each author’s contributions. One way of facing this challenge is to take a mathematical approach to determining each author’s [Read more…]

6 Self-publishing tips

Self-publishing using desktop publishing software offers textbook authors a viable alternative to traditional publishing methods. Patrice Morin-Spatz, self-published author of the McGuffey Award winning textbook cpTeach Expert Coding Made Easy!, and Mark Lerner, professional desktop publisher, recommend that authors use programs such as InDesign or QuarkXPress, or hire an experienced desktop publisher to arrange text, images, tables, and charts into a polished and professional finished product.

Morin-Spatz and Lerner offer the following six tips to help ensure that your experience with self-publishing is a success: [Read more…]

Think of yourself as a writer

Authors need to understand the process by which their manuscript will be evaluated and take that into account when they submit. If a smart recent college graduate can’t decode what your book is about, you’re in trouble.Writing

When I graduated from college I hoped to land a job working on a dude ranch in Wyoming. Instead, I fell into a career in scholarly publishing, acquiring books for Oxford University Presses. I realize now that as an editor I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the prose. I cared more about the ideas than about how well they were expressed, at least that’s what I told myself. It wasn’t true.

I would stand over the credenza to choose which of the many long-ago-submitted manuscripts I was going to tackle next. I liked manuscripts with subheads that helped to signpost the argument. Some looked inviting—they got me interested at the first sentence, and I kept reading while I walked back to my office. However, the ones with paragraphs that went on forever, their page-long sentences cobbled together with semicolons, told me the authors didn’t give a hoot about my experience as a reader. Giant blocks of quoted material suggested the author was unwilling or unable to think independently. If the first few sentences contained heaps of words that no one ever spoke out loud, I knew I’d need a cup of coffee. Those were the manuscripts I left for later. Sometimes it would be months before I would get to them. Many months. [Read more…]

12 Secrets of a prolific textbook author

textbook stackIf you want to become a more successful and productive author, said Marilyn “Winkie” Fordney, the author of insurance billing and medical assisting books, choose a topic that is a first in its field or with little or no competition. Using this strategy and others, Fordney has published more than 50 books, many of which are the leading textbooks in her field. “I submitted my first manuscript to four different publishers and all wanted it,” she said. “Because of this it gave me a little edge in the contract negotiation. First I hired a contract attorney from Capital Records who taught me from the beginning the do’s and don’t’s of negotiating.”

Fordney shares these additional strategies for becoming a more prolific author: [Read more…]

How to improve your role in the peer review process

Gayle Brazeau

Gayle Brazeau

Serving as manuscript peer reviewer is an important, critical professional activity, yet most peer reviewers do not receive any mentoring in the process from their colleagues. Peer review is only as good as the individuals who participate. Individuals who provide constructive reviews can enhance their own writing skills and extend their professional reputation through editors who will often look to good reviewers as future journal editorial advisory board members.

When reviewing a journal, read and evaluate the manuscript from different three perspectives, and employing three critical assumptions:

First Perspective: Read the manuscript and gain an understanding of the content and focus of the work.
First Critical Assumption: The reviewer has agreed to review in an area of their professional expertise.
Second Perspective: Read the manuscript from the perspective of a competitor with a critical, but objective eye.
Second Critical Assumption: The reviewer does not have a conflict of interest with the author(s) involved in the work.
Third Perspective: Read from the perspective of a colleague/friend who wants to improve the manuscript quality, providing suggestions and recommendations, as well as identifying additional work or clarifications to enhance the quality of the the current or revised manuscript .
Third Critical Assumption: The reviewer provides comments which focus on improving the quality of the study/work or the results/conclusions rather than simply dismissing the efforts by the author(s). [Read more…]

Author: Classrooms incubate great textbooks

The classroom is a crucible for textbook development, said Robert Christophersongeography author Robert Christopherson, and that’s why publishers are looking for people who love to teach to write textbooks. The development of the sequences of topics and the text outline is done through experimentation, Christopherson said, which is best done in the classroom using the author’s own students. Christopherson said student questions in the classroom, for example, may be an indication of where a figure label is needed in the textbook.

Christopher said another plus for authors in teaching from their own own text is that it creates an ice-breaker. “Drawing students into who wrote the book defuses classroom tension,” he said. He does this by: [Read more…]

Academic publishing: How to deal with rejection

WritingRejection can certainly be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of a project. It is important to move forward after your work is rejected and there are some steps you can take to avoid rejection altogether.

Overcoming disappointment is often one of the first things an academic author must face after a rejection. Dannielle Joy Davis, an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law at Alabama State University and a new co-editor for the journal Learning for Democracy, recommends setting aside a finite amount of time to feel disappointed before moving on and taking steps to resubmit. “I always send [a rejected paper] back out to a refereed venue and do not dwell on disappointment for more than 24 hours,” she said.

After conquering your disappointment, you must decide whether or not to resubmit your work to another journal. Tara Gray, the director of the Teaching Academy at New Mexico State University, and author of Publish and Flourish: Become a Prolific Scholar, suggests objectively evaluating whether the costs of revising the project outweigh the benefits, rather than making a decision based on your emotional reaction to the rejection.

“When you get the rejection feedback, it feels devastating,” Gray said. “But when you try to respond one step at a time, usually you can respond reasonably and well. I would never reject a project based on reading bad feedback. I would reject it only upon trying to make those changes and finding they are insurmountable.” Gray said she always resubmits when her own work is rejected.

Davis urges writers to persevere and never give up on their manuscripts. In her experience as a writer, co-editor and reviewer, she has never come across a project that should be abandoned. “Authors must persist in the face of rejection and not take rejection personally,” Davis said. “Remember, every good manuscript has a home. It is our job as authors to find that home and to continue to polish the work while searching for it. Persistence is key in the publishing process.” Davis has never given up on a rejected project. Her strategy of persistence has paid off, earning her more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and a recent book contract.

One way that academic authors can potentially avoid the disappointment of rejection is to request pre-submission feedback in order to identify and fix problems early. Gray is a strong advocate for this strategy and works with three groups of readers for her pre-submission feedback. She asks non-experts, such as family members or friends, to read her work and look for issues in clarity and organization. She also asks people in her field that she trusts to read her work and comment on issues related to content, methodology, and theory.

In addition, Gray contacts the scholars that she has cited the most often and/or the most heavily in her manuscript to elicit valuable additional feedback. “I generally get about a 50% response rate from these experts,” Gray said. “I contact them and ask them for feedback on how I am using their work. That tends to be the hook that gets them to want to interact with me more. I also ask them for just a quick read—just 20 minutes of their time—to look for the biggest problems they see. Some of them have been enormously helpful to me.”

Gray asserts that pre-submission feedback can be extremely helpful in avoiding rejection and can help ensure that a project is worth pursuing in the early stages of the work: “If you’ve gone through a half a dozen experts and non-experts before you submit, you won’t be working on many projects that need to be abandoned.”


Tips on copyrighting your completed textbook

Q: “I have recently completed a textbook, and am searching for a publisher. Should I have the book copyrighted?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, Atlantic Path Publishing:

“You can, or the publisher can do that for you in your name. The publisher typically pays the fee and sends two finished copies to the Library of Congress when the book is out. Request that the publisher register the copyright in your name, which is normal unless you have permanently assigned copyright to the publisher. My understanding is that in signing the publishing contract you do assign exclusive copyright use to the publisher (hopefully for a specified time rather than indefinitely), after which rights can revert to the author. However, an original work is ultimately, automatically, the property of its author or creator, which is a separate function from granting rights. It does seem confusing. Publishers typically do the paperwork and payment for registering the copyright, and a textbook often contains additional material and ancillaries that the publisher provides, and that may be why most textbooks have the publisher’s name on the copyright page. But, if I understand correctly, copyright ownership of the author’s content can be (and often is) registered in the author’s name (unless it is a work for hire), and the publisher usually will perform this service if asked. I believe we have attorneys on this list who can clarify this for us.” [Read more…]

What are some of the rewards of textbook writing?

Q: “What are some of the rewards of textbook writing?”

A: Erin C. Amerman, author of Exploring Anatomy & Physiology in the Laboratory, 1e (2010):

“Authoring a textbook from scratch is, naturally, an incredibly laborious process. It means often working 80-hour work weeks, giving up weekends, and facing occasional scathing comments from one’s peers. For me, it also meant that my daughter’s first intelligible sentence was, ‘Mommy, work, book.’ Without a doubt, textbook authoring demands sacrifices. Given all of this, one may wonder why anyone ever bothers to undertake such a massive task. The answer lies in the many rewards of textbook writing. In my opinion, the biggest such reward is the ability to create something brand new, something that will enhance the learning experience of students and make a positive impact on their education. As professors, we all have the opportunity to touch our students’ lives, but textbook authoring offers one the opportunity to do this on a much grander scale.” [Read more…]