The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: December 14, 2018

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." ~Jack CanfieldEndings can be challenging. Whether it’s the end of a project, the end of a semester, the end of a life phase, or even the end of a calendar year. What makes ending so difficult is often the uncertainty of what’s next rather than the closure of what has been.

This week’s collection of posts from around the web begins with an example of a fourth year PhD candidate working toward completion of the program and advice on transitioning between career or writing phases. It continues with guidance on how to start collaborative projects, a challenge to dance your PhD, and eight ways to write theory very badly. Finally, we close with the uncertainty of the publishing industry for textbook authors, an introduction to branding, and ways to work with contributing authors in an edited book.

As we approach the final few weeks of 2018, we encourage you to look back over the year and your accomplishments with your writing projects. Close off what has earned completion status in the weeks and months that have come to pass, and prepare yourself for all that 2019 has in store. Look at your next project, career opportunity, or calendar page with excitement rather than nervousness. After all, as Jack Canfield once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: September 7, 2018

"The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any." ~Russell BakerRussell Baker once said, “The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.” As writers, we can certainly acknowledge the work such a craft requires, and in the genres of academic and textbook authoring the wide range of additional concerns for balance, accuracy, research integrity, and innovation in our writing efforts.

This week our collection of posts from around the web begins with a question, “Are there only four kinds of writers?” inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The four tendencies. This evaluation of a writer is paired with authoring benefits, ways to improve academic output, time and energy management, research methods, diversity in peer review, critical and creative thinking, and privacy in user research – all factors of consideration for the academic author, regardless the type. Finally, we close this week’s list with considerations of the future of our profession, with new approaches to textbook development and e-book potential, the realities of open source and scholarly publishing, and significant changes in the trend toward open access in scientific publishing.

As you embark on your writing efforts in the week ahead, I encourage you to recognize and embrace the real work involved in the writing process and to find encouragement and support to continue those efforts. Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: August 31, 2018

"Half of my life is an act of revision." ~John Irving“Half of my life is an act of revision.” Wise words from John Irving for all writers and ones that thread through our collection of posts this week.

We begin with discussions of how to manage multiple writing projects, interpret data visualizations, and use diary methods in qualitative research. We then share practical advice on successful publishing in journals, informed consent, fellowships, and balancing a PhD with a family. Closing out our list is the prediction that textbooks are here to stay, along with new resources including scholarly podcasts, open and interoperable annotation, YouTube videos, and open science tools.

Whether you are revising a manuscript or your writing craft this week, we hope that you will find value in some of the resources below. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Re-engineering the modern textbook: A conceptual shift from content delivery to learning design

ebook from a print bookTextbooks have historically provided the core content from which teachers develop and deliver learning experiences to their students – a static, paper manuscript delivering conceptual knowledge and exercises to reinforce the material. As mobile technology has provided alternative ways to access and read content in electronic form, most textbooks have been distributed in an e-book format (commonly ePub or PDF) as well, but is this “new” format providing any benefit to student learners?

Arguably the costs of this paperless format are less; search features can improve the speed at which content can be located; and assistive technology, such as screen readers and magnification tools, can improve the accessibility of the information over the print alternative. But, does the technology improve learning? [Read more…]

Paper or digital? How to decide the format for your monograph or book

Paper or e-book?A question continues in some stores, “Paper or plastic?” While recyclable bags may make this a thing of the past, other questions continue. Authors continue to ponder whether their book should be a paper copy or an eBook. While this is an important discussion, it should not cause deep thinking.

The obvious answer is both. If a publisher is wise, it will offer a book or monograph in both formats. This is a smart consumer-centric option. Let the buyer decide which they prefer. Let’s discuss, though, each format to see where the market is and the virtues of each one. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: March 30, 2018

"The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one." ~Chris AlmeidaWe begin this week’s collection of textbook & academic posts from around the web with a royalty calculation update from Cengage as it relates to their Cengage Unlimited service. We then have several articles of interest to textbook authors and faculty considering OER textbook options. Finally, we found advice for academic writers on structuring papers, coping with peer review processes, and being scholar-activists.

Chris Almeida put it best when he said, “The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one.” As you write this week, we hope the end of March brings with it some finished work, and the start of April brings with it new beginnings in your writing. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: December 22, 2017

"All writing is rewriting." ~John GreenJohn Green says, “All writing is rewriting”. Nearing the end of the year, you may be considering what still needs to be written (both literally and figuratively) or rewritten for the year. As your writing continues into the holidays, our collection of posts this week begin with actions you can take to balance work with the holidays, effectively brainstorm ideas, and to gain more influence in academe.

We then explore some of the topics impacting textbook and academic authors including net neutrality, OER adoptions, free textbooks, qualitative research methods, and author perspectives on academic journal publishing in 2017. We close this week in the holiday spirit of gift giving (both literally and figuratively) with book ideas for the academic on your list and an article titled, “10 reasons self-publishing is the best gift you can give your book”. Whatever your holiday plans, we hope that you continue writing (and rewriting) toward an even better new year ahead. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: May 8, 2015

If you find you are stuck, that the words just will not flow, focus onFocus your attention on writing-and, if necessary, on why you write and on what inspires you to write-and you will write. why you write. Focus on what inspires you to write. Remembering why you started is a great way to get re-inspired and back to putting words down on the page. Nina Amir’s quote, “Focus your attention on writing—and, if necessary, on why you write and on what inspires you to write—and you will write”, is spot on. When the journey gets tough—when you want to give everything up—remember why you started this journey. Maybe the textbook you wanted to teach from did not exist and you knew you could create exactly the version your students needed. Maybe you are on the tenure track and getting published will fulfill your goals and dreams. Whatever it is, let that be your inspiration to move your writing project forward this weekend. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Why print is still winning

w-onlinereading0221The debate about digital textbooks (etextbooks) and whether they will replace their physical counterparts continues this week with recent findings from the University of Washington. Their study showed that roughly 25% of students who were given free versions of etextbooks still purchased a physical copy of the same book.

“These are people who aren’t supposed to remember what it’s like to even smell books,” said Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication. “It’s quite astounding.”

Another survey done by Student Monitor found that 87% of college students purchased their textbooks as physical books, not etextbooks. Moreover, as mentioned in this Washington Post piece, “Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer [Read more…]