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…]

A delicate balance: Humility and self-respect

FeedbackWhether you are a doctoral student wrestling the drafts of your dissertation or an academic author wrestling with the drafts of your book, you have encountered, or will, the often-intimidating presence and feedback of your chair or editor. As with any interpersonal relationship, it’s advisable to steer between abject obeisance and independent arrogance. Neither will get you what you want—approval of your dissertation or publication of your book.

In my academic editing and coaching profession, I suggest to clients that an optimum way to establish and maintain a good working relationship is a combination of humility and self-respect. Whatever your past accomplishments, humility before the perceived power of the chair or editor is required. [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…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: May 4, 2018

"Sometimes writing is like playing with fire...like trying to tame an uncontrollable beast." ~A.D. PoseyA.D. Posey once said, “Sometimes writing is like playing with fire…like trying to tame an uncontrollable beast.” Each year as May arrives, bringing with it the end of an academic school year for many, things can often feel out of control. This week’s collection of articles addresses some of the common issues faced by academics and authors.

For starters, concerns of overwhelm, contribution, speed, soft skills, and academic behavior are highlighted in the posts. We then found articles that discussed relationships both with other researchers, and with family during times of research. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: April 20, 2018

"Writing is the light of imagination playing over shadow of thoughts" ~Khaled TalibThis week’s collection of articles from around the web contains a lot of advice for academic authors including key writing skills, tips for communicating with your dissertation chair, coping strategies, and books on writing productivity. It also contains information on changes in research and edtech, including Google’s “Talk to Books”, a study on uncited research, necessary support and incentives for sharing data, and a scam involving forged acceptance letters from journals. Finally, we have an article on a technology platform for textbook authors designed to keep textbooks current.

According to Khaled Talib, “Writing is the light of imagination playing over shadow of thoughts.” This week let your imagination drive your research and creativity to enhance your writing. [Read more…]

How not to complete your dissertation

Woman heroFrom my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have noticed that women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to a dissertation.

Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories of doctoral candidates (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you are a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions prevent the completion of your dreamed-of doctorate. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: January 26, 2018

"If writing didn't require thinking then we'd all be doing it." ~Jeremiah LaabsJeremiah Laabs reminds us that “If writing didn’t require thinking then we’d all be doing it.” This week we have a number of articles to get you thinking. For textbook authors, you may be thinking about the disruptive opportunities within the market seeking to solve the problem of high prices, you may be considering options for digital textbooks, or maybe you’re thinking about OER. Both textbook and academic authors with blogs may be thinking about how to repurpose blog articles into a book.

Academic authors may also be thinking about choosing the right dissertation topic, new opportunities in journal publishing, research impact factors, quantity vs. quality concerns in publishing, and roadblocks to accessibility. Whatever you’re thinking about, we hope it leads to better, more productive writing this week, and that these articles may help you think clearer. [Read more…]

Timesaving tech tip: Customize and create styles for consistent, instant document formatting

I’ve got my own writing style. I’m sure you do too. Regardless, you likely have editors, publishers, and/or teachers who insist on specific style requirements that can be quite tedious and time-consuming to apply on a document by document basis.

Timesaving tip: Customize and create styles for consistent and instant formatting. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 17, 2017

"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~Louis L'AmourAs we reach the halfway point of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) 2017, the posts this week reflect an increased awareness of the disruptive nature of Open Access in academic publishing, ways to increase diversity in scholarly writing, tips for productive reading and distraction resistance while writing, ways to beat your fear of writing, tools for academic writers, improving your use of comparisons, strategies for quickly tackling a writing project, and how to market your academic journal articles. Whatever you are working on this week, remember the words of Louis L’Amour and “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” [Read more…]

For doctoral students – Your relationship with your chair: Too chummy or too distant?

relationshipIf you’re at the dissertation writing stage, your most important relationship (other than the one with your chocolate/peanut butter cups stash) is that with your chair/advisor/first reader. Your chair can be your best friend or worst nemesis. But there’s no getting around it; if you want to get done, finally, and graduate with those proud letters after your name, you need your chair.

When your chair is friendly, forthcoming, and responsive, you may be tempted to become friends. When your chair is too formal and standoffish, you may be tempted to ignore him or her entirely, or as much as the required paperwork allows. Either extreme is a mistake, and you’ll likely regret it later. [Read more…]