Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: December 6, 2019

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” - Philip RothPhilip Roth once said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Compared with the popular saying that references good intentions, from a writer’s perspective works-in-progress are certainly the physical remnants of our good, yet unfinished, intentions. But there are a lot of things competing with our time and making it difficult to finish those intended projects.

This week’s collection of articles seems to address some of those issues. For starters, there may be things you want to read that the full text may or may not be worth the time, or you may be managing a heavy teaching load, juggling multiple writing projects, or trying to select the right journal for your work. All well-intentioned, but perhaps resulting in works-in-progress on the highway to hell. Other good intentions in our industry come with their own potential problems or unintended consequences. Some of these are also addressed below, including: giving feedback on academic writing, accepting people with disabilities, blogging efforts, faculty authoring, open access initiatives, and publishing industry mergers.

Whatever path your writing takes you this week, set your mindset and destination for better. Find ways to finish the projects you start, especially those with your best of intentions, and explore new ways to accomplish your writing goals. Happy writing! [Read more…]

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: October 25, 2019

“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl SaganAs we come to the close of Open Access Week 2019, having been faced with the challenge of considering this year’s theme, “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”, the words of Carl Sagan seem even more appropriate. “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

This week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with some relevant discussions on open access including an MIT-developed framework for negotiating contracts with scholarly publishers, the future of open access business models, discussion about ownership of research, and the first 100 books from Johns Hopkins University Project. We’ve also included some other hot topics for academic authors on grant writing, being an older student, and being a minority in academia.

Wherever your writing takes you this week, whether publishing open access or traditional, consider the audience you can reach and the shackles of time you can break as a result of your efforts. Happy writing! [Read more…]

The 5R activities of OER

cassette tapeDuring his 2019 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Why I Chose to Publish OER, What I Learned, and Do I Have Regrets”, with Jeanne Hoover, Dave Dillon, TAA Council member and author of the award-winning open textbook Blueprint for Success in College and Career, shared the 5R activities permitted by open access.

Defining the “open” in open content and open educational resources (OER), Dillon noted, “The terms ‘open content’ and ‘open educational resources’, describe any copyrightable work that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities” below. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 11, 2019

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” – Robert Louis StevensonThis week’s collection of articles from around the web includes such topics as the user-centric future of academic research software, crowd-funding research projects, writing the thesis from the middle, evaluative focus groups, citations of friends and reviewers, and roadblocks to better open access models.

We close the collection with a book review of two new guides to academic life and a new approach to keeping up with academic publications – knowledge mapping.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” As you work this week, may you continue to grow through what you read in a way that lets you produce more from what you write. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 4, 2019

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen KingThis week’s collection of posts from around the web is full of advice on a variety of topics of interest for academic and textbook authors. Topics include: creative thinking, co-writing, starting a PhD, starting a research network, dissemination of research, research feature creep, dissertation committee service, open access ethics, research data sharing, and academic book reviews.

As varied as this topic list may seem, collectively it represents some of the many questions and challenges faced by academic authors daily. Stephen King once said, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” The same is true for your answers to these questions and challenges. If it doesn’t naturally fit your academic pursuits, it’s not the right path for this stage of your academic career. This week focus on the words that fit best for where you are in the process. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 27, 2019

“I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.” ~Isabel AllendeIsabel Allende once said, “I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.” In reflection on this quote, TAA member Caroline Eisner commented on our LinkedIn page, “Allende seems a strong proponent of the idea that writing needs to communicate something TO SOMEONE, a strong appeal to writing with audience awareness. As if, without that awareness, literature doesn’t exist? Just thinking out loud here.”

This week’s collection of articles addresses similar thought, with focus on what publications matter at what stages of your career; the idea that writing is more than technical skill, but rather a capacity to apply knowledge; and the ability to use our skills as examples to others through mentoring or models. As more colleges try classes without textbooks, discussed in our final article, it’s right to consider whether literature is an end in itself or just a way of communicating something.

As you write this week, consider your audience and your form of writing. Are they aligned and do they communicate the ideas you intend to share with those for whom they are intended? 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…]

Busy TAA People: Dave Dillon awarded Open Textbook Award

Blueprint for Success in College and CareerDave DillonTAA member Dave Dillon has been awarded the Open Textbook Award for Excellence by the Open Education Consortium for his textbook, Blueprint for Success in College and Career. The book is designed to show how to be successful in college and career preparation, and focuses on study skills, time management, career exploration, health, and financial literacy.

The Open Textbook Award for Excellence is presented to high-quality innovative teaching and learning materials openly available online for everyone to use, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute.

The award is selected by the OE Awards Committee to recognize truly exceptional work in Open Education. “We applaud your dedication to openness, access, high quality and innovation shown by your work and vision,” said Marcela Morales, Director of Community Relations for the Open Education Consortium. [Read more…]

Open access is now: Good news or bad news?

open signAt the TAA Conference in Philadelphia this past month, I heard many comments about open access. They varied widely from support, to derision, to misunderstanding, to apathy.

First, what is open access? In its purest form, open access is offering or publishing material online, free of cost or barriers with an open license that removes most restrictions on use and reuse. The open access or OA movement has been around twenty plus years with its roots going back much farther than that. [Read more…]