5 Rhetorical moves for writing abstracts

An article abstract is often the first thing that readers and reviewers see. Setting the right tone up front can impact whether your readers continue reading, influence the way the rest of your text is received, and, in terms of reviewers, it may determine whether your article is accepted to be published. What makes for a strong article abstract? What goes in and what stays out?

According to Mark Pedretti, Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at Claremont Graduate University, there is something very commonsensical about writing an abstract. In his webinar titled “How to Structure & Write an Article Abstract,” Pedretti recommends thinking of an abstract as a cognitive roadmap for your readers; it generates the expectations that are going to inform how the reader approaches the text. The abstract signals to the reader what to pay attention to and where to expect transition, organizing the reading experience before it ever takes place. [Read more…]

Dear dissertation advisers: I have some advice for you

Dissertation adviceDear dissertation advisors, as a dissertation coach, I don’t actually want you to do your jobs better, because that might cut into my business. But if you’re interested in saving yourself effort and hassles in working with your thesis and dissertation candidates, I have a few pieces of advice for you.

As a dissertation coach, most people who contact me are struggling with their work, and often those struggles are exacerbated by poor feedback or support from professors. This biases my view of the general quality of research feedback, but the general patterns of what makes good vs. bad feedback are still useful to keep in mind. Good feedback helps the student effectively, reducing demands on the teacher; bad feedback will hinder progress, and may ultimately increase teacher workload. It’s good when students finish their projects, for both student and professor! [Read more…]

Time and friendship and writing

friendship and writingAs I’ve chosen to reduce socializing in favor of more writing time, I’ve also chosen to keep up or reconnect with a very few friends and realize an essential characteristic of friendship: time doesn’t matter. However long the moments, weeks, or years between contacts, real friendship knows no steel-banded boundaries of time, distance, erratic mobile phone connections, or sporadic emails.

I recall a friend of twenty years ago who lived nearby, and I still cherish our many calls and visits. When we both moved, our interests diverged, and contact ended. [Read more…]

How to smash an unexpected block: When the writing’s going well

No negative thoughts allowedWe’ve all probably read articles about writer’s block that stumps and paralyzes, but several writers I know have experienced another unexpected and surprising block. One described it: “My fingers play the computer keyboard like a concert pianist, my pages pile up like gold. ‘Wow, I think, I’m gonna go all night!’”

Then he confessed, “‘Faster than a form rejection, more powerful than an editor’s frown, able to freeze me in a single flash, a horrible thought darkens my brain: I can’t stand it anymore!’”

What? The writing was going just too well. [Read more…]

How to avoid the need to secure permission

Guide to Rights Clearance & Permissions in Scholarly, Educational, and Trade PublishingMaybe it was something you saw in a magazine or at a bookstore. Maybe it was something you saw online. Maybe it was something that caught your eye in a grant application or proposal…a good idea in poorly skilled hands seemingly not up to the task. In any event, wherever you first saw it, it inspired you to develop and publish your own article or book on the subject.

Anyone who has worked in an intellectual or creative endeavor knows that many new works build to one degree or another on the earlier work of others. But getting a head start by leveraging the intellectual work product of another is potentially problematic. When does inspiration cross over into infringement or a breach of scholarly integrity? The lawyer’s answer is: it depends. [Read more…]

5/1 TAA Webinar: ‘Demystifying the Literature Review’

Literature reviews are one of the more challenging genres of academic writing. Join us Tuesday, May 1, 3-4 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar, “Demystifying the Literature Review”, presented by Dr. Daveena Tauber, Founder of ScholarStudio, to talk about strategies for reading, making sense of, and writing about the literature. Whether you’re writing a literature review for a dissertation, an article, or the introduction to your book, you won’t want to miss this rare opportunity to get clarity on this important part of your project. This webinar will help you understand not only what it means to synthesize the literature, but will also give you tools for doing it.  [Read more…]

Co-authoring & writing collaboration: Planning strategies for success

Writing a book or an article is a demanding process in the best of circumstances. We must balance a number of internal and external factors. We must figure out how to convey our insights and experiences, research and analysis, in writing. At the same time, we must interface with the external world: schedules and deadlines, editors and publishers, and ultimately with our readers. We add another set of factors when we work with co-authors. How can we navigate all of these dimensions in ways that allow us to collectively produce our best work? [Read more…]

Inspiration for a successful writing practice: TAA writing workshops

Writing is like a sport-you only get better if you practice. -Rick RiordanA good writing practice takes just that–practice, as well as inspiration, organization, and determination. Support is also important, and institutions can play a key role in supporting and celebrating faculty authors by hosting writing workshops. Workshops provide faculty motivation, information, and resources that can help them achieve greater publishing success. [Read more…]

Rejecting the premise of writer’s block: Write your way out

When you talk with academic writers about productivity, you are likely to hear the term ‘writer’s block’. Despite the prevalence of this term, I am resistant to identifying common academic writing difficulties as writer’s block. Most writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking. That isn’t just a semantic quibble: it matters that we grasp exactly what is inhibiting our writing processes. When we diagnose ourselves as having writer’s block, we can start to believe that we aren’t currently able to write. If you find yourself with a sore leg, it may well be that avoiding walking is a sound strategy. If you find yourself unable to write, might it be a sound strategy to avoid writing? The answer to that question is almost always no. Not writing has little-to-no curative power, in my experience. [Read more…]

4/25 TAA Webinar: ‘How to Structure and Write an Article Abstract’

Mark PedrettiWhat makes for a strong article abstract? How much is too much, not enough, and just right? What goes in and what stays out? The abstract to your article is often the first thing that readers and reviewers see, and setting the right tone up front can influence the way the rest of your text is received. Join us Wednesday, April 25 from 3-4 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar, “How to Structure and Write an Article Abstract”,  presented by Mark Pedretti, Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at Claremont Graduate University. [Read more…]