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

"It's the writing that teaches you." ~Isaac AsimovThis week’s collection of academic and textbook articles have a theme of learning. Perhaps you’re looking to learn how to author academic books, manage an Early Career Researcher blog, or write peer-reviewed research articles. Maybe you’re exploring or developing a threshold concept, working with Big Data, or examining changes in research workflow. Possibly you’re seeking solutions to drive down the cost of textbooks. This week’s collection covers them all.

No matter your learning path, keep in mind Isaac Asimov’s insight, “It’s the writing that teaches you.” Wishing you a great week of learning through writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: February 23, 2018

"Writing is amazing! When I write I am empowered by my thoughts, entertained by my imagination, and enlightened by my wisdom." ~Theresa LewisIn this week’s collection of noteworthy articles from around the web, we share discussion on stuck points and writer’s block, identifying when enough is enough, and a focus on writing for the reader. Additionally, there are tools and resources on open textbook self-publishing, open access technology options, publishing options for early career researchers, and instruction and datasets on focus groups. Finally, we find discussions on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), university presses, and the continued life of print publishing.

Theresa Lewis said, “Writing is amazing! When I write I am empowered by my thoughts, entertained by my imagination, and enlightened by my wisdom.” As you write this week, be empowered, entertained, and enlightened so that your words can empower, entertain, and enlighten those who read them. [Read more…]

How to balance the demands of teaching and working on your thesis

Work Life BalanceIf you asked most people about the demands of a teaching position, they’d quickly agree that time extends beyond the classroom hours with grading and student interaction turning most part-time roles into full-time commitments of time and full-time roles into, well, more. Ask the same about the time involved in getting a graduate degree, especially during the research-intensive processes of a thesis or dissertation, and in most cases, you’ll hear of it being a full-time job unto itself.

So how can one person balance the demands of these two time-intensive efforts? For the answer, we sought the opinions of several TAA members, and as a bonus have included some additional resources to assist you if you are currently in or considering such a balancing act yourself. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: September 18, 2015

“The best way to learn about writing is to study the work of other writers you admire.” – Jeffery Deaver

The best way to learn about writing_Deaver quoteIsn’t this an excellent bit of advice that Jeffery Deaver gives us? Do we not do this in our own writing, but also in other aspects of our lives? I think one piece is missing from his advice, however. I believe that you also have to find and study writers that have a similar tone, style, and voice to that of your own. All of those things make up who you are and who you are as a writer. Although, that isn’t to say that you still couldn’t learn something from someone that has a completely different kind of style. What is of importance, I think, is to always be reading and admiring, and of course writing, to help you grow as a writer. Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: January 16, 2014

“Writing: somewhere between torture and fun.” writing-somewhere between torture and funI’m not sure about you, but this is how I often feel about writing—more specifically the writing process. Writing can often be pleasurable and fun, but at times it can be torture to try and get words down on the page. Even more torture is the feedback and rejection that can come after pouring everything you had into a piece. Yet with all of that, I dare to say that the pleasure outweighs the torture and that true writers, whether textbook, academic or otherwise, can never stop because it is how they interact with the world.

My hope is that the articles below will help aid in making writing more pleasurable. And, as always, happy writing! [Read more…]

How to Write a Sophisticated, Dynamic Scholarly Argument

Tweed Gears

It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.

Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.

Another quirk I’ve noticed is that less effective manuscripts—whether they’re written by early-career scholars or not—tend to organize information into lists. That may not sound so damning, but lists become vulnerabilities when they are presented as arguments. [Read more…]

How to identify yourself as an academic writer

Identify yourself as a writerDoctoral study involves a transition from student to researcher; a key aspect of that transition is becoming an academic writer. This is not to say that most new PhDs would readily describe themselves as academic writers. But that level of accomplishment requires the development of a set of academic writing skills that were likely not present at the outset of doctoral study. It’s also likely the case that the development of those crucial skills was a significant challenge.

Why is doctoral writing such a challenge? This question is a vital one given the centrality of writing to all that we do as academics. It’s common for new graduate students to feel as though their writing skills have suddenly become worse, as though the adequate writing skills honed over their undergraduate years have abandoned them just when they need them the most. A linear trajectory that would naturally make us better writers with each passing year may seem a reasonable expectation, but the reality is more complicated than that. Understanding this reality can help novice academic writers start to approach writing in a more confident and efficient manner. [Read more…]