Finding your writing niche

Writing is like growing up. From babyhood, we learn to crawl (= write junk), wobble half-upright (= write a little less junk), walk in spurts (= write much less junk), run a little (= write more of what really is us), and finally gain balance to walk and run at will (= write in our true voice).

In life, if we could jump into adulthood from childhood or even early adolescence without living through each previous stage, we’d save much time and angst. In writing too, imagine learning enough from watching, reading, and hearing about others’ experiences, mistakes, misguided decisions, and failings so we wouldn’t have to experience them at all. But, unfortunately or fortunately, we have to experience it all. [Read more…]

Take some time away from work to work

Take some time away from work to workWe often think of the December-January holiday break as the midpoint of the academic year. Faculty need recuperative time to gear up for the semester or term, for course planning, fine-tuning, or writing syllabi.

But, what about your own writing projects? In early December, many of my clients need to step away from their daily writing practice to dive into their grading, with final grade deadlines looming. We talk about scheduling for the first week of January, and then we talk about how it will be more likely the second week of January before they sit down to begin writing again. In fact, I start to get a little nervous for them, because I know that come the second week of January, for many of them, the course planning and syllabus fine-tuning will take place that did not happen after the grading in December. And, that is okay. I get it.

However, as you look ahead to classes beginning again in mid-to-late January, what about your own writing? Does it stress you out? If it does, let’s do this instead. [Read more…]

Cultivating your writing garden

cultivate your gardenI admit to being addicted to quotes. I have kept a list for years and it grows with each book I read. “Let us cultivate our garden,” is a well-known aphorism by Voltaire. It applies to so many areas of life: relationships, work, gardening, and of course, writing.

Quite a few authors or would-be authors I speak with feel unsure or uncertain about their writing and editing skills. I get it. Most authors have spent years honing their content mastery and little of their precious “free time” on becoming better writers or editors. [Read more…]

TAA’s 2020 Conference Early Registration Is Open!

Join us in San Diego, CA for TAA’s 33rd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference. Early registration is now open!

TAA’s conference will be held June 12-13 at the beautiful Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, located in the heart of downtown San Diego! With a Four Diamond rating by AAA, the Westin San Diego Gaslamp is located just steps from the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, boasting of more than 150 restaurants, bars, shops, cafes and galleries. It is also only a 15 minute walk or short Uber ride to the popular Waterfront and Little Italy neighborhoods! [Read more…]

When your professor muscles in: Your topic and coauthorship

frustrated academicAs an advanced graduate student, you face many hard situations: finally writing the dissertation, trying to explain to your family why you can’t spend any time with them, and breaking up the fistfights between your chair and committee members. In my work as academic coach and editor, and especially with clients who are at any of the torturous stages of their dissertations, I’ve noticed two other scenarios that can cause students great anxiety. The first is the professor’s suggestion of a dissertation topic. The second, later, is a professor’s offer to collaborate on a research article. [Read more…]

The changing nature of ye olde academic writing

classic booksLikely we all remember Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. It was written in the late 1300’s in Middle English. Here are the first few lines:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,    

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,        

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;          

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

I am sure we are all flashing back to high school and suffering though this classic long work. Most of us read an updated version written in modern English, thankfully. Likely you remember the discussion of the evolution of language. [Read more…]

11/19 TAA Webinar – “Responding to Reviewers’ Comments”

Mark PedrettiWhether submitting journal articles or book manuscripts, academic authors can expect their work to be anonymously reviewed by expert peers. Sometimes helpful, sometimes infuriating, reviewers’ comments can make or break a publication; a negative review can bring your piece to a screeching halt. Join us Tuesday, November 19, from 1-2 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar, “Responding to Reviewers’ Comments”, where presenter Mark Pedretti, an Assistant Director of English at Providence College, will discuss strategies for engaging with reviewer’s comments — both positive and negative. He will also:

  • Explore ways to figure out the importance placed upon comments in a given publishing context, the relationship between editor and reviewer, and whether comments are in fact “make or break.”
  • Talk about strategies for documenting responses to suggestions, and how to politely decline to make changes that are off base.

The goal: to equip webinar participants with a set of tools for navigating the unspoken rules of the review process.

[Read more…]

Academic writing styles: Persuasive academic writing

persuasive academic writingAcademic writing is far from a one-size-fits-all genre. Applicable to the broad variety of academic disciplines and their unique approaches to conducting and documenting research efforts in the field, one might find it challenging to identify clearly what constitutes academic writing.

In our latest series of #AcWriChat TweetChat events on Twitter, we explored four commonly accepted academic writing styles: descriptive, analytical, persuasive, and critical. This article focuses on the discussion about the third of those four styles – persuasive academic writing. [Read more…]

Crafting meaningful stories to bring research methods to life

What's your story?Stories engage readers. We can use stories to show how the ideas or strategies we are discussing might play out in a particular social, cultural, or organizational context. I often write about research methods, and find that stories can help readers see how the pieces of a research design fit together. Stories can be presented in a fully-developed research case, or as an engaging example inserted within an article or book chapter.

For my first research book, Online Interviews in Real Time, I thought it was important to include stories. Online methods were new and few robust descriptions were available that showed how they actually worked. I found six researchers who were doing interesting online research, and interviewed them. I crafted a section for each chapter called “Researchers’ Notebook: Stories of Online Inquiry.” Readers could see how each of these researchers handled ethical dilemmas or sampling. The companion website linked to additional materials from the researchers’ work.

Several books later, I am getting ready to write a new edition for Doing Qualitative Research Online and again want to include stories in a “Researchers’ Notebook.” I know that more researchers are incorporating stories, so I wondered whether their lessons learned might help me prepare to move forward. In this post I will share a few tips and examples I discovered in three open access articles. In a future post I will look at digital and visual storytelling and how I can use these approaches in ancillary materials. [Read more…]

Safeguarding your scholarship in OA: What to look for and what to avoid

As open access publishing matures into an accepted (and in some disciplines, the standard) form of scholarly communication, it is more important than ever to be able to spot what Jeffrey Beall calls “predatory publications”, publications that accept article processing fees but fail to provide essential editorial services.  As academic librarians who have many years of experience helping faculty navigate this new landscape, we recommend using the following strategies for safeguarding your scholarship while pursuing open access options for your work. [Read more…]