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…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 21, 2019

Plan CAt last week’s Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Philadelphia, there were some wonderful presentations and discussion on topics of inclusive access, textbook subscription models, open access, writing and publishing strategies, and the overall trends in the changing landscape of academic publishing. This week’s collection of articles from around the web extend that discussion with some of the same topics present in our list.

As you ponder the future of textbook and academic authoring and publishing for yourself, I encourage you to consider the thoughts of Rob Siltanen, “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Here’s to changing the world. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: June 7, 2019

"The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday." ~David SchlosserThis week’s collection of articles from around the web includes publishing advice from the perspective of an editor, ways to approach writing targets, internal contradictions with open access books, and ways to retreat and regroup after the academic year. There is also some additional discussion on the effect of Plan S on scholarly communication.

As you move forward with your writing projects this week, remember the advice of David Schlosser, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

Can I help you in any way? OER

Can I help you in any way? OER“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real”. Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’ll highlight some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions. In this post, we’re focused on a question about publishing options in either Open Textbook format or through self-publishing methods. [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…]