Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 30, 2020

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~Mark TwainMark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Writing is a continuous search for the right word, the right fit, and the right connections.

As textbook and academic authors, that search for what’s “right” may be in the relationships with co-authors and editors. It may be what’s right from a social justice perspective. It may be what’s right in our preparation, process, and delivery of content. Or it may be what’s right for publishing our work.

No matter what’s “right” for your writing this week focus on finding what’s truly right instead of settling for what’s “almost right”. The lightning has a much stronger impact than the lightning bug. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Overcoming the five factors that complicate peer collaboration

Collaboration with peers is different from collaboration with a peer. It’s complicated.In her most recent webinar, “Practical Strategies for Collaborating with Peers”, Janet Salmons shared her experience in collaborative projects telling the audience that “collaboration with peers is different from collaboration with a peer. It’s complicated.” The larger the group, the more complicated the factors affecting collaboration become.  

Regardless, according to Salmons, the sooner that these five common factors are identified, the sooner they can be addressed, and the potential damage they can cause is more likely to be avoided. So, what are these five common factors that complicate peer collaboration? [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 28, 2020

“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” – George LorimerAre you determined to succeed? At the end of the day, are you satisfied with your results? George Lorimer once said, “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” So what are you determined to do with your textbook and academic writing?

This week’s collection of articles from around the web includes discussion on the future of scholarly communication, how to get published, and an approach to teaching writing that works. It also includes ideas for experimenting and playing with data, looking at different aspects of the same problem, and funding research and innovation through open science efforts.

What all of these ideas, innovations, and results have in common is the determination of one or more individuals to bring an idea to fruition and share it with others. As you approach your writing projects this week, start each day with determination and end them with satisfaction. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 31, 2020

“You must expect great things from yourself before you can do them.” ~Michael JordanHall of Fame basketball player Michael Jordan once said, “You must expect great things from yourself before you can do them.” When writing for publication, we must expect great things from ourselves and our research in order to accomplish those goals of writing a journal article or textbook. This week’s collection of articles from around the web offers insight into just how to achieve the greatness we expect of ourselves and our work.

We begin with discussions about collaborating with others on research projects, choosing relevant literature for empirical studies, and understanding conference proceedings. We continue with measurements of commitment to research transparency and practical strategies for disseminating research in various ways. Finally, we close with a look at ways to manage a career in publishing.

Whatever your goals in this realm of textbook and academic publishing, expect great things from yourself and then do them. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: January 17, 2020

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” ~Ralph Waldo EmersonRalph Waldo Emerson once noted, “that which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” In our collection of articles from around the web this week, we see several suggestions on how to make our lives as academic writers easier by increasing our ability to do.

Suggestions include writing for the public for more impact, forming a brain trust, expanding our knowledge set with new literatures, collaborating around Big Data, and providing choice on how to pay for peer review and publication. This week, we encourage you to explore these and other ways to make your tasks as an author easier and to increase your ability to do. Happy Writing! [Read more…]

Reflection and collaboration

reflection and collaborationThis time last year, I wrote two posts for Abstract. In the December post, “Reflect and Reboot,” I discussed ideas from Dewey and others about reflection and deep learning. After taking some time to contemplate how these concepts applied in my own work/life, I wrote Reflections on academic writing: Three insights. Now I’d like to build on this line of thinking and discuss ways reflection plays into our work with others.

As noted in last year’s posts, Dewey suggested that reflective thought is needed “to transform a situation in which there is experienced obscurity, doubt, conflict, disturbance of some sort, into a situation that is clear, coherent, settled, harmonious” (Dewey, 1939, p. 851). He might have had collaborative writing in mind, since doubt and conflict are all too common when writers who are accustomed to doing their own thing find themselves in a situation with equally head-strong co-authors or co-editors. How can we use reflective thinking to shift into a coherent, harmonious working relationship? [Read more…]

Developing healthy collaborative relationships: Why and how

collaborationCollaborative writing relationships can be advantageous to all involved when designed for success, but without self-awareness and clear communication, these relationships can set projects on a path of failure. In academia, opportunities exist for both student-to-student collaboration as well as collaboration between students and professors.

During their 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference session, Laura Jacobi, Justin Rudnick, Alyssa Harter, and Cristy Dougherty shared some strategies for successful professor-student collaborations. These strategies include reflective practices and effective communication guidelines as summarized below. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 20, 2019

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest HemingwayThis week’s collection of articles from around the web is laden with questions. How do I approach an inter-disciplinary thesis? I’ve passed my comps – now what? How do I plan my first draft and get the right stuff in the right order? What are the ethical issues of working with literature? How can I be a good peer reviewer? How do we support research engagement? How can I deal with the growing complexities of international collaboration? And the theme across Peer Review Week 2019, how many ways can you define quality in peer review?

Ernest Hemingway once said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” As we come to the close of Peer Review Week 2019 it is fitting to remember that our peers are apprentices as well in this craft. None of us have all of the answers to the questions above or the countless others that face us as academic writers. We learn from each other and grow stronger in our writing and disciplines as a result. This week, embrace your apprenticeship status and Happy Writing! [Read more…]

Tools for complex collaborations

collaboration on computersWhen we collaborate on a writing or editing project with one or two people, we can get away with sharing documents as email attachments. In more complex projects, we might have multiple partners, and each partner could have a significant amount of research and/or writing to contribute. Collaborative partners might have their own teams or student assistants who contribute to the effort. Sharing attachments is no longer the best strategy for exchanging work in progress, so what should we do?

This dilemma is the focus of my questions to Cole Keirsey, who joined me for a presentation, “Managing to Collaborate: Matching Document Management Tools to Your Writing Project,” at the recent TAA conference. As a technical writer for a global company, he used strategies that academic writers can adopt. He answered my questions about document sharing and version control here, and in next month’s post we will look at two other topics from that presentation: distribution and reuse, and deep linking. [Read more…]

6 Steps to organizing for collaborative advantage for writers

collaboration hi-fiveIn her recent TAA webinar, “Mentor, Coach, Supervisor: Collaborative Ways to Work with Writers”, Janet Salmons defined collaboration as “an interactive process that engages two or more individuals or groups who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently”. During the session, she shared details about her taxonomy of collaboration and strategies for successful collaboration among academic writers.

In summary of the process for implementing the taxonomy of collaboration and organizing an environment suitable for creating a collaborative advantage for writers, she shared the following six steps. [Read more…]