Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: November 29, 2019

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” – Ralph KeyesAs we come to the end of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) 2019, many of our TAA members and community have found themselves committing to 30 days of intentional habit building to improve their writing practice. As Ralph Keyes noted, “Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.” Our collection of articles from around the web this week addresses some of the other things that affect authors beyond the simple habit of writing.

We start with a Q&A from this month’s SAGE MethodSpace webinar on collaborative writing and some insight on where it is (and where it is not) acceptable to ask for help on your writing projects. We continue with some PhD-related topics about the experience of a PhD program, ethics and the literature review, and planning for the post-PhD job search. We then explore the use of meta-text and graphic presentations to enhance research impact. Finally, we close with the current and future prospects of open access and the open access movement.

As you close out the month of November, and your AcWriMo writing commitments, hold on to the routines that you have developed along the way to maintain a successful writing practice year round. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: November 22, 2019

“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.” – George SingletonContinuing the trend of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) articles, this week’s collection from around the web includes a lot of tips for academic writing. Specifically, this week we have found articles on productivity & happiness, creating better mentors, unsticking your writing, understanding research technology infrastructure, navigating the PhD defense process, and illustrating your research.

This week, we add the words of George Singleton to the advice as well, “Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.” Happy Writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 13, 2019

“You can fix anything but a blank page.” – Nora RobertsNora Roberts once said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” As we prepare for Peer Review Week 2019 next week, we find in our collection of articles from around the web others looking ahead to the event and many other items for consideration in the world of academic writing.

Our list includes advice on what to do in between submission and examination of your thesis, methods for work-life balance, holistic approaches to teaching and mentoring researchers, gamification of academic writing, ethics in data science, pathways to open access, and the art and science of image description.

No matter where your textbook and academic writing efforts take you this week, be sure to start somewhere. After all, you can’t fix a blank page. Happy writing! [Read more…]

5 Tips for visualizing data with charts

Show Me! The Art of Using Visual Elements to Enhance a ManuscriptIn my recent TAA webinar, “Show Me! The Art of Using Visual Elements to Enhance a Manuscript“, I shared best practices for incorporating tables, figures, and charts into your manuscripts and the tools available for developing those visual elements.

One of my favorite forms of visual element is a chart. Charts combine the visual appeal of figures with the data content of tables and can be quite effective in conveying context and purpose when used properly. For greatest success, I offer the following five tips for chart usage in your next manuscript. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 17, 2019

"It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different." ~Scott BerkunThis week’s collection of articles from around the web contains a number of articles focused on the aspects of writer’s life that are not directly related to the task of writing. Things like use of figures, evaluation methods, motivational efforts, discussion, and networking opportunities.

These same things, while supportive of our writing practice, may also prove to be a distraction or cause of fear of evaluation of our own writing. While it is important to keep them in mind and to incorporate them into our overall writing process, we must be sure to use them in a way that moves us further along in our writing efforts. As Scott Berkun once said, “It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people, it’s the fear of not writing well; something quite different.” This week let the evaluation, nagging, discussion, and presentation of your work drive you to be better and to move forward. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Figuring it out: Trends for visuals in academic writing

Comic Strip Frame with text "Write, write, write! Will anyone read all these words?"Online exchanges are increasingly visual. Even staid newspaper sites now embed media or graphic stories. Almost every mobile device includes a camera, and the means to quickly upload and share still images or media. Graphics and drawing software are readily available. What do these trends mean for academic writing? What kinds of figures or other visual materials are scholars using to communicate about their research? How are electronic journals changing the options for the use of media and images? With these questions in mind, I explored trends and looked examples of visuals in academic writing that extend beyond the typical black and white figure. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 22, 2019

Make things happenThis week’s collection of articles from around the web continues to show the state of change in the publishing industry, specifically through the open access movement. From the perspective of personal change (and challenges), several other topics are included in the list with focus on feedback, negative mind chatter, bold requests, and presenting information to others.

Whatever changes or challenges your writing efforts may be facing from external or internal sources this week, remember your goals for having started in the first place and make things happen. Happy writing! [Read more…]

5 Ways to visualize your academic research

5 Ways to Visualize Your Academic ResearchData visualization is the placement of facts and figures in an illustrative design. This can include any form of multimedia such as videos, maps, charts and diagrams, for example. Adding elements of data visualization to academic research is an effective method because 65% of the human population are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. This means their brains are more likely to absorb and retain information that is presented in a graphic format.

Imagery is simple, quick and digestible to process, whereas the majority of attention spans take in just 28% of words on a page, as reported by the Nielsen Norman Group. So because most people need complex material to be broken down into more accessible pictures and patterns, data visualization is essential for securing the readers’ interest and enhancing their retention.

You can integrate data visualization into your own academic research with these creative and interactive techniques for a reader experience that stimulates, informs, and compels your target audience. [Read more…]

Communicate visually to engage readers!

Examples of VisualsKress and others observe that a shift we are witnessing from words to pictures is interrelated with a shift from print to digital. This shift means movement from an emphasis on written communication to an emphasis on images and media. At the same time, it represents a move from the printed publication to the screen.

As academic writers, we need to rethink our attachment to the words, and look for new ways to communicate visually in books, articles, and ancillary resources. We also need to update our promotional and social media materials to attract attention in an information-overload environment.

One way is to use diagrams, visual maps, or illustrations to concisely communicate important ideas and key relationships. Another way is to show ways the ideas or problems are demonstrated in real situations. [Read more…]

3 Tips for writing an effective figure caption

Research with figureIn a recent post on constructing effective tables and figures, I noted the need for figures to include captions that “succinctly describe the accompanying content.” In this post, we will discuss the purpose of captions and how to write one that is effective.

It is important to remember that figures should be clearly understood, even in isolation from the rest of the manuscript. The caption provides an opportunity for the author to provide context and connection to the rest of the article, as it relates to the visual element. [Read more…]