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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Discuss the reviews with the right colleagues. “If you’re just kibitzing because your feelings are hurt, that’s not constructive,” said Gribble. “If you have a mentor or colleague who knows the project well, that person may help you come to terms with which things in the review deserve more attention, which are the most important changes to make.”

Reviews are not gospel. Nor is every piece of advice in every review. As with anything, said Holzman, some reviews are better than others. “You need to evaluate the overall quality of the review, and weigh the advice you’re given,” he said. “Conferring with your editor can help you decide what sort of revision makes the best sense.” [Read more…]

How to manage multiple journal submissions

Q: “I probably will have to submit my article to several journals before it is accepted. Each of the ones I am likely to send it to has a different style for footnotes and references. How do I make revisions efficiently and not spend undue hours with trivia?”

A: Richard Hull, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, SUNY at Buffalo:

“There are excellent reference management software programs available. You type your references in once; subsequent revisions are often possible by simply giving the periodical’s name, or by providing a simple template that will, for example, cause first and middle names to be replaced by initials (followed or not followed by periods), journal volume numbers to be preceded or not preceded by “vol.”, the year of the publication to be placed just after the author’s name or after the volume number (surrounded or nor surrounded by parentheses), and so forth. End Note and Reference Manager are two common ones, and they are sometimes freely provided to faculty by their educational institution’s Instructional Technology centers.”

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

Q: “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: Laura Taalman, mathematics textbook author:

“This may not be an issue with you, but are you sure that YOUR page count is the same as theirs? Depending on what program you use for your writing, and what kind of format the graphic designers and compositors will use, your count may be very different from what they will be counting. Maybe your problem can magically go away?” [Read more…]