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

spring blossomsThis week’s collection of articles from around the web has a spring-like atmosphere of newness, pruning, and growth. We begin with two questions: “What does academic work look like?” and “Which academics are happy?” We then explore emerging trends in the academic publishing lifecycle, revision processes, and synthesis in a literature review. We close with new ideas on re-reading and technological support for peer review.

Kelly Barnhill once said, “That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.” Whatever revisions face your writing (or writing practices) this week, find the magic that helps you grow. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: March 8, 2019

"I haven't finished writing my book, but it's on top of my list" ~Celeste AlexanderThis week’s collection of posts from around the web includes practical advice from past experiences balanced with ideas to move us forward. We start with practical advice on mistakes to avoid when doing your PhD, what nobody tells you about ‘minor corrections’, strategies to manage work and enjoy life, and reviewing literature to situate it in a research tradition. We then share some articles with new ideas for mapping a text (beyond the traditional mind map or concept map), addressing global imbalances in scholarly communication, and training PhD graduates for jobs outside of academia.

Celeste Alexander once said, “I haven’t finished writing my book, but it’s on top of my list.” This week focus on that item on top of your list. What can you do to move closer to crossing it off? Happy writing! [Read more…]

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

"I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." ~Shannon HaleAs we enter into Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)  2018, the focus of many is academic writing practices and ways to improve the results and experience of academic writing. At TAA, we will be maintaining a fundamental focus on academic writing this month around the theme of “The 5 W’s of Academic Writing“. It is therefore fitting that our collection of articles from around the web this week focuses also on such challenges and practices.

Our collection begins with the challenges of academic writing, revising with a reader in mind, and starting new research topics as a post-doc. We continue with topics of experimental control and collaboration with peers. Finally, we explore the wildcard of examination, a holistic publication strategy, and the ethics of conference speakers.

Wherever you are in your own writing process, we hope that you can find ways to build a stronger writing practice over the coming weeks. Shannon Hale once said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” So whether you are simply shoveling sand or finishing a castle, happy writing! [Read more…]

Five tips for successful textbook revisions

Lisa Ede, a professor of English at Oregon State University, textbooksand author of Work in Progress: A Guide to Academic Writing and Revising, shares the following five tips for successfully revising your textbook:

    1. Start off strong. If you have a clear revision plan for a portion of your manuscript, do those tasks first. Starting with the revisions you are most confident about means that “you’ll start with a positive experience and build up energy and synergy,” said Ede.
  1. Focus on global issues before local ones. Doing the global changes in your manuscript first means you won’t waste time revising paragraphs or sections that you later decide to delete.
  2. Analyze your manuscript. “If you’re having trouble deciding if a section of your text is working,” said Ede, “analyze each paragraph by identifying what the paragraph says at the level of content and determining what it does for readers.” This kind of analysis will help you gain perspective on your writing and what needs to be done to improve it.
  3. Listen to your sales reps. They are in direct contact with the developmental editors who work on your book and the students and teachers who are using it.
  4. Learn from your students. If you use your book in your classroom, show your students your working versions of chapter revisions and ask them for their feedback on any new examples, etc.

Dionne Soares Palmer is a freelance writer based in northern California.

How to respond to peer reviews of your book manuscript

Alex Holzman, director of Temple University Press, Writing Groupand Jessica Gribble, acquisitions editor at Lynne Rienner Publishers, share their advice on how to best handle the peer review process:

Don’t take it personally. “Remember that the purpose of this review is to help you make your manuscript the best work it can be,” said Gribble. Also, reading criticism, even constructive criticism, of something you’ve worked on for so long can be emotional, so it is wise to wait several days before discussing it with your editor. [Read more…]

Q&A: You’ve reached your maximum number of textbook pages, but lack content. Now what?

Author's questionnaireQ: “I am writing a book under contract and my chapters have been running so long I have already written the maximum number of pages negotiated with my publisher, yet have only fulfilled half the overall content promised. How should I approach this with the publisher? Should I renegotiate the overall content covered in the book or engage in some major editing?”

A: Mary Ellen Lepionka, author of Writing & Developing Your College Textbook:

“I suggest first clarifying if the publisher’s contract is referring to book pages or manuscript pages. You can usually figure 2.5 double- spaced manuscript pages per book page for a book with around 500 words per page, which is standard for an 8 X 10 trim size, which is standard for a textbook. For a 14- to 16-chapter textbook, no chapter should exceed 40 book pages in length. [Read more…]