Get academic writing into your bones

How do you get academic writing into your bones—and mind? If you’re an experienced professor, you may not need to immerse as much as your students do. In my dissertation editing and coaching practice, I’ve noticed that many student writers write like they speak—conversationally and colloquially.

If you’re a closet novelist, fine. Write like your characters speak. But academic writing is a breed unto itself, and not giving it the proper attention is the downfall of many a previously good student.

Feedback on student work: a sinkhole or an opportunity – Finding time to write (part 2)

Students expect and need feedback on their work. The basic goal of feedback is to enhance student learning. An anomaly of feedback is that more is not necessarily better. Research tells us that students may not even read your copious feedback (sigh) and may not understand what to do with statements like, “cite more references” or “this is confusing”. However, giving a judicious amount of feedback in a timely manner will make a difference in student learning. The purpose of this article is to describe how to refine, clarify, streamline, and improve your feedback practices with an eye toward spending less time on the task.

Collaborating across differences: Build writing relationships with co-author agreements

I had a conversation with a senior colleague recently about the purpose and value of co-author agreements in collaborative writing projects. He and I talk regularly about research and writing but had not touched on the nature of “agreements” in collaborations. He has built his career in a scientific field where co-authors are the norm, and the majority of his publications included graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or government agency researchers as collaborators.

Six reminders to help you and your students get to the writing

It’s no secret that writing is hard, whatever our experience, stage, or state. Academics aren’t the only ones who abhor writing. It’s likely that anyone who ever had to write anything abhors writing. With academic writing, as any other kind, it’s usually hard to get started. Even if we’ve had an initial flush of enthusiasm and are amazed at having produced the first few pages, it’s too easy to sink into a frozen torpor.

Yet writing represents some of the most important aspects of our professional work. And too often we avoid, procrastinate, and rationalize why, instead of writing, we must polish the car or clean out the refrigerator.

Are you older than your professors? There’s hope

I immediately recognized Marlene’s voice on the phone. She was one of the brightest and most conscientious doctoral students I have ever served in my academic coaching and editing practice. An older student, “nontraditional,” Marlene had returned for her doctorate after three of her four kids were grown and on their own. She held down a full-time job in medical billing, and her youngest was now in high school, so Marlene embarked on a lifelong dream—she enrolled in a doctoral program. We were working together on the first of her course papers.

But now, instead of greeting me, Marlene fumed for ten minutes. Her professor had track-changed almost every page of her essay and added a four-paragraph single-spaced memo stuffed with questions. Marlene shouted over the phone, “I’m calling the doctoral police!”

Finding time to write: Important, yes! Impossible, no! Reviewing your student assignment practices

The best insurance policy for success in academe is to write (and publish) your work. Yet, you say, where or where do I find the time to write, especially with all the feedback and grading I have to do?

This article is the first in a four-part series focused on finding hidden pockets of time for your own writing. This article will reflect on one aspect of your teaching practice: the assignments you have students complete.

What happens when you hand out your syllabus in that first face-to-face class? The students breeze past your well-crafted course description, clearly written objectives, and inspiring teaching philosophy to one place in the syllabus—the assignments.