Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: September 20, 2019

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest HemingwayThis week’s collection of articles from around the web is laden with questions. How do I approach an inter-disciplinary thesis? I’ve passed my comps – now what? How do I plan my first draft and get the right stuff in the right order? What are the ethical issues of working with literature? How can I be a good peer reviewer? How do we support research engagement? How can I deal with the growing complexities of international collaboration? And the theme across Peer Review Week 2019, how many ways can you define quality in peer review?

Ernest Hemingway once said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” As we come to the close of Peer Review Week 2019 it is fitting to remember that our peers are apprentices as well in this craft. None of us have all of the answers to the questions above or the countless others that face us as academic writers. We learn from each other and grow stronger in our writing and disciplines as a result. This week, embrace your apprenticeship status and Happy Writing! [Read more…]

Tools for complex collaborations

collaboration on computersWhen we collaborate on a writing or editing project with one or two people, we can get away with sharing documents as email attachments. In more complex projects, we might have multiple partners, and each partner could have a significant amount of research and/or writing to contribute. Collaborative partners might have their own teams or student assistants who contribute to the effort. Sharing attachments is no longer the best strategy for exchanging work in progress, so what should we do?

This dilemma is the focus of my questions to Cole Keirsey, who joined me for a presentation, “Managing to Collaborate: Matching Document Management Tools to Your Writing Project,” at the recent TAA conference. As a technical writer for a global company, he used strategies that academic writers can adopt. He answered my questions about document sharing and version control here, and in next month’s post we will look at two other topics from that presentation: distribution and reuse, and deep linking. [Read more…]

6 Steps to organizing for collaborative advantage for writers

collaboration hi-fiveIn her recent TAA webinar, “Mentor, Coach, Supervisor: Collaborative Ways to Work with Writers”, Janet Salmons defined collaboration as “an interactive process that engages two or more individuals or groups who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently”. During the session, she shared details about her taxonomy of collaboration and strategies for successful collaboration among academic writers.

In summary of the process for implementing the taxonomy of collaboration and organizing an environment suitable for creating a collaborative advantage for writers, she shared the following six steps. [Read more…]

The taxonomy of collaboration

Taxonomy of CollaborationIn her recent TAA webinar, “Make ‘Collaboration’ More Than a Buzzword”, Janet Salmons, author of Learning to Collaborate, Collaborating to Learn, shared six elements to the taxonomy of collaboration: reflection, dialogue, constructive review, parallel collaboration, sequential collaboration, and synergistic collaboration.

Starting from a definition that “collaboration is an interactive process that engages two or more individual or groups who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently”, traversing the taxonomy as described requires that the collaboration among individuals increase in level of trust as well. Referencing Handy, Salmons said, “In collaborative efforts, trust is ‘the confidence that a person is competent to reach a goal and is committed to reaching it.’” [Read more…]

Doctoral writing circles: Learning to write and collaborate

writing circleGraduate students will graduate, and at that point they’ll need to write with others. In academic positions they’ll work with colleagues on committees and research projects that result in written materials, books, or articles. In professional positions they’ll work on project teams and write plans and reports. Yet while they are in school, especially at the dissertation stage, students’ work is typically conducted on their own.

First, let’s define the term collaboration to describe “an interactive process that engages two or more participants who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently” (Salmons, 2019). Sometimes writers collaborate to produce one piece of writing, other times they collaborate on the process, while each produces their own piece of writing.

With those possibilities in mind, as instructors, mentors, or dissertation supervisors, how can we create opportunities for that help students collaborate to generate their best writing and at the same time, learn to collaborate so they are prepared to succeed in a team-work world? [Read more…]

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…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: May 4, 2018

"Sometimes writing is like playing with fire...like trying to tame an uncontrollable beast." ~A.D. PoseyA.D. Posey once said, “Sometimes writing is like playing with fire…like trying to tame an uncontrollable beast.” Each year as May arrives, bringing with it the end of an academic school year for many, things can often feel out of control. This week’s collection of articles addresses some of the common issues faced by academics and authors.

For starters, concerns of overwhelm, contribution, speed, soft skills, and academic behavior are highlighted in the posts. We then found articles that discussed relationships both with other researchers, and with family during times of research. [Read more…]

Exploring new terrain: Mentoring academic authors across the pond

Erin McTigue is exploring new terrain, recently embarking on a unique adventure in her academic career. After resigning her post as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University and Associate Director of Texas A&M’s POWER writing services program, this fall Erin stepped into the position of Associate Professor II at the National Reading Education and Research Center of Norway, within the University of Stavanger. A full-time, flexible position, Erin will split her time between working remotely from her home in Texas and traveling to Norway for a few weeks each quarter.

In addition to conducting her own research and academic writing projects, Erin will present writing workshops, facilitate writing retreats, and work one-on-one with graduate students and junior faculty to help them create their optimal writing practices. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: October 20, 2017

"Writing is more than a craft; it is a way of life. Everything you see or do becomes part of what you write." H.P. OliverH. P. Oliver shared that “Writing is more than a craft; it is a way of life. Everything you see or do becomes part of what you write.” While you have been busy writing this week, we’ve kept record of some noteworthy articles you may not have seen. Below you will find articles from the past week on understanding research metrics, when to write a press release, the future of open access publishing, considerations when writing a conference paper, barriers to research collaboration, peer review systems, and the ongoing discussion of traditional vs digital textbook materials. As you enter the week ahead, I hope you find ways to improve your writing, and therefore, your way of life. [Read more…]

How to leverage technology to benefit writing collaboration

mobile educationAlthough collaborative writing projects can present challenges in terms of communication, work flow, and organization, there are several technology tools available that can help increase productivity and the overall success of the project. Kathleen P. King, Professor and Program Director of Higher Education & Policy Studies at the University of Central Florida, Orlando discussed this topic in her 2016 TAA conference presentation, “Leveraging Online Learning Technology & Environments to Benefit Research Group Writing”.

King’s first piece of advice is to consider the person in the group that has the hardest time adjusting to new technology and choose a tool that will fit their comfort level. This may mean that you use a more familiar option such as Skype or Google docs to aid in your collaborations, rather than some of the more advanced options. In group collaborations, the project’s success is dependent on all group members feeling comfortable with the technology tools used. [Read more…]