Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 30, 2020

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ~Mark TwainMark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Writing is a continuous search for the right word, the right fit, and the right connections.

As textbook and academic authors, that search for what’s “right” may be in the relationships with co-authors and editors. It may be what’s right from a social justice perspective. It may be what’s right in our preparation, process, and delivery of content. Or it may be what’s right for publishing our work.

No matter what’s “right” for your writing this week focus on finding what’s truly right instead of settling for what’s “almost right”. The lightning has a much stronger impact than the lightning bug. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: December 6, 2019

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” - Philip RothPhilip Roth once said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Compared with the popular saying that references good intentions, from a writer’s perspective works-in-progress are certainly the physical remnants of our good, yet unfinished, intentions. But there are a lot of things competing with our time and making it difficult to finish those intended projects.

This week’s collection of articles seems to address some of those issues. For starters, there may be things you want to read that the full text may or may not be worth the time, or you may be managing a heavy teaching load, juggling multiple writing projects, or trying to select the right journal for your work. All well-intentioned, but perhaps resulting in works-in-progress on the highway to hell. Other good intentions in our industry come with their own potential problems or unintended consequences. Some of these are also addressed below, including: giving feedback on academic writing, accepting people with disabilities, blogging efforts, faculty authoring, open access initiatives, and publishing industry mergers.

Whatever path your writing takes you this week, set your mindset and destination for better. Find ways to finish the projects you start, especially those with your best of intentions, and explore new ways to accomplish your writing goals. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: February 1, 2019

"Words are a lens to focus one's mind." ~Ayn RandAyn Rand once said, “Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” As you reflect on the first month of 2019, where are your words? Where is your focus? Whatever your focus, you may find you are not alone as you explore this week’s collection of posts from around the web.

Our first three articles provide insight for those focused on self care, financial support for their research, or improving their teaching and learning of writing. Our next set of articles share thoughts for those focused on greater access and sharing of ideas and data with other researchers. Finally, we have found articles focused on the continued learning process associated with new vocabulary or methods.

Wherever your focus is at this stage of your writing, use your words this week to bring those ideas into greater clarity. Happy writing! [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: March 13, 2015

I’m excited for a few reasons this week. You fail only if you stop writing.First, spring-like temperatures have arrived and stuck around for multiple days. (Woot!) Second, this week’s most useful post is jam-packed with articles I think you’ll enjoy. Topics range from knockoff rating companies to massive open online courses (MOOCs). Third, I found this great quote by Ray Bradbury, “you fail only if you stop writing,” that I couldn’t wait to share with you all. This quote is so simple, yet so powerful.

We all define success differently but ultimately failure, that is no longer writing, is the same. If one journal or publisher rejects your writing, you don’t stop writing, you either tweak what you have, find a better fit, or start on another project. You haven’t failed until the moment you stop writing. In a bicycle race you haven’t failed unless you stop pedaling. Of course not everything we write is worthy of being called a masterpiece, but I don’t think that just because a piece of writing isn’t our best that it should be considered a failure. Isn’t it by writing and rewriting that we discover those masterpieces?

Happy writing! [Read more…]

Should you teach from your own textbook?

Should you teach from your own textbook?In a recent discussion in the Textbook Writing & Publishing Discussion Circle in TAA’s online member community regarding whether professors should teach from their own textbook, all agreed that it was perfectly acceptable, but whether or not to collect royalties on those sales was met with mixed reactions.

According to textbook author Kevin Patton, textbook royalties are no different than being paid for lecturing:

I believe that it’s perfectly ethical for authors to get royalties or other compensation for their textbooks used by their own students. Besides it being a time-honored tradition in academia, textbook writing takes a lot of time and effort outside of one’s contracted teaching duties that should rightfully be compensated. Taking a royalty check for teaching via a textbook is no different than taking a salary check for lecturing in a classroom.”
[Read more…]

Classrooms are great incubator for great textbooks

Should you teach from your own textbook?The classroom is a crucible for textbook development, said geography author Robert Christopherson, and that’s why publishers are looking for people who love to teach to write textbooks. “The development of the sequences of topics and the text outline is done through experimentation, he said, which is best done in the classroom using the author’s own students. Student questions in the classroom, for example, may be an indication of where a figure label is needed in the textbook.” [Read more…]

Q&A: What advice can you share for authors who want to teach from their own textbooks?

Author's questionnaireQ: “I’m interested in some do’s and don’ts related to teaching a college course using one’s own textbook. I’m used to expanding on material and offer things ‘left out’ of others’ texts. Using my own, I find myself ‘teaching from the text’ more than I’d like (or more than what is interesting to the students). Any advice from those of you who have dealt with this?”

 A: Rebecca Plante, PhD, Assistant Professor & Chair, Personnel Committee, Sociology Department, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY:

“I teach with two of my texts – I have to, as long as they’re in print, or it would look really bad (‘You don’t use your own books!!?’). My editor would have a hard time working with me if I refused to assign the text I wrote on sex…in my sexualities class. If I don’t believe in the text enough to adopt it, why would anyone else? [Read more…]