Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 7, 2021

Academia serves a purpose of feeding the future, of taking minds with a limited set of knowledge and helping them realize that while they may have a perspective of vast understanding, the potential for growth and development of their understanding exists in a limitless amount of barren space. It is from this mindset that I believe C.S. Lewis claimed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

I have read that quote numerous times, and as an educator and author myself, taught and thought from the perspective that in a world of information overload, we are in a different era than Lewis and have a new responsibility of cutting down jungles to help our students see clearly.

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: April 23, 2021

One of the most unique and rewarding features of textbook and academic authoring compared to other genres is the intentional sharing of learned knowledge with others through our writing. In addition to authoring, I have had the opportunity to teach college level courses for nearly two decades and continue to be amazed at how much I learn with each class I teach and with each book or article I write.

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 5, 2021

As academics, we seek to gain and share knowledge, we look for answers and question the ones we know, and we encourage students and colleagues to continue learning and expanding their breadth of knowledge. But what happens when we don’t find an answer or, worse yet, don’t feel like we have the answer to give to someone else?

As academic and textbook authors, we are the authority – the knowledge source – in our discipline, so how could we possibly not have an answer to give, and if we don’t, then maybe we need to question whether we belong in that position of responsibility as a writer after all, don’t we?

Five ways to tiptoe into your dissertation

If you’re contemplating a doctoral program in which a dissertation is required or you’re already registered and sneaking up on one—and you feel stumped (read: procrastinating)—here are five ways that should help you begin.

Your Dream

The dissertation is the crowning achievement for your degree. Having reached at least the threshold of the dissertation, congratulate yourself. You made it through all the prerequisites and courses, and you’re that much closer to the award of your degree. You’ve done it all because . . . . ? This is the time to remind yourself: How is this degree part of my life’s goals?

Dragging your dissertation feet?

Is your dissertation dragging you down? Are you dragging your feet, your manuscript in sorry tow behind you like an annoying younger brother? Are you doing the impossible already—on campus or online, like many other graduate students juggling family, work, and school? Your academic struggles are intensified by the stresses of such multiple responsibilities and, possibly, loss of your long-range picture.

From what I’ve learned and observed as a longtime coach of graduate students and writer of creative projects, here I address some issues that can trip you up. And I share some steadying remedies so you handle your dissertation and other creative projects with less dragging and more speed and even enthusiasm.

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 29, 2020

This week’s collection of articles from around the web have a spirit of hope and resiliency among them. In this time of uncertainty, disruption, and change, we have opportunities to embrace what is new and build what we desire from the state of what is. As researchers and academics, much of our careers are based on new pursuits and exceptional goals.

Whether writing the introductory chapter of a thesis or dissertation, planning for a post-PhD career, or exploring the modern researcher ecosystem, we seek for identity and success. Change is abundant as well in the way we hold conferences, publish and access research, and achieve visibility. All of these topics are found in this week’s collection.

The key, regardless of the state of your career or writing is to believe in yourself, to embrace opportunity, and to move forward. As Cassandra Sanford said, “If this is something that you really want to do, if you believe in it…simply keep forging forward because success will come.” Happy writing!

3 Strategies and 5 steps to developing your dissertation into a manuscript

Let’s set the record straight. “A dissertation is not a book.” In her recent TAA webinar, “Writing Your First Book: Developing Your Dissertation Into a Manuscript”, Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz of MargaretEdits shared practical strategies and tips for bridging the gap between completing your dissertation and writing a compelling book manuscript.

 

During this session, Puskar-Pasewicz offered three strategies for making the transition from dissertation to book and then suggested five steps to get started on the journey.

3 Important steps to reconceiving your dissertation as a book

Early career academics and newly minted PhDs in the humanities and social sciences often want to turn their dissertation into a book. While this is a laudable goal, it is important to keep in mind that university presses seldom publish unrevised or lightly revised dissertations. Instead, they seek books that grow out of dissertation projects and are substantially more developed. Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz’s TAA webinar offered terrific advice about the big picture of moving from dissertation to book. TAA members can review her webinar for an overview of the whole process.

Where most writers get stuck, I’ve found in my work coaching academics for the past decade, is in the early stage of reconceiving their project. Taking the following three steps can help you shake off the familiar old conception of your work that you’ve lived with for years and chart a new map for a truly book-worthy project.

When your professor muscles in: Your topic and coauthorship

As an advanced graduate student, you face many hard situations: finally writing the dissertation, trying to explain to your family why you can’t spend any time with them, and breaking up the fistfights between your chair and committee members. In my work as academic coach and editor, and especially with clients who are at any of the torturous stages of their dissertations, I’ve noticed two other scenarios that can cause students great anxiety. The first is the professor’s suggestion of a dissertation topic. The second, later, is a professor’s offer to collaborate on a research article.

Choose your best dissertation chair

It is impossible to overestimate the significance of the student-advisor relationship. . . . This is both a personal and professional relationship that rivals marriage and parenthood in its complexity, variety and ramifications for the rest of one’s life. (Zhao, Golde, & McCormick, 2007, p. 263)

These wise observations were made by a new “doctor” in the study by Zhao et al. (2007) of how the doctoral students’ choice of chairs and their behavior affect the students’ satisfaction. The candidate quoted above echoes what many doctoral students learn, with ease or agony, during their dissertations. Your relationship with your chair (sometimes called advisor or supervisor) is absolutely the most important in your entire doctoral haul.