AcWriMo starts tomorrow – see what we have planned

AcWriMo 2019Established in 2011, Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) is “a month-long academic write-a-thon that happens every November”. Here at TAA, we have continued to plan special opportunities for our members to engage in AcWriMo as a group to enhance their individual writing efforts. Some of our members have also created or sponsored additional AcWriMo events throughout the month.

This year, TAA has decided to focus on a theme of “Distinguishing features of academic writing”. Specifically, we have used a list of academic writing features to further focus our weekly TweetChat discussions and shared resources to include: academic precision, complexity, formality, objectivity, and accuracy. Below are several of the planned activities we have scheduled for AcWriMo 2019. [Read more…]

The promise of writing in the disciplines

academic libraryFor many of us who teach writing, we often think about the rhetorical triangle: ethos, pathos, and logos. Although, when speaking to our students, colleagues, or peers, we tend to use the more colloquial terms of speaker/writer, audience/reader, and message/content, and then in terms of genre and purpose. Through these terms, I teach writers what good academic writing is and how it works: about how and why we cite sources, use first- or third-person, active voice, even adverbs.

I first heard of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) years ago in the K12 context of writing to learn and learning to write to be understood across K12 subjects: social studies, English, mathematics, and science. Undergirding WAC is the understanding that good writing in any subject requires writing to be clear and accessible. In math classes, for example, we asked students to write out the process by which they solved a problem. At the time, this allowed us to zero in on where students struggled and allowed us to give partial credit for a math problem almost solved correctly, but it did not yet have to do with writing well academically in the discursive styles of a specific discipline. But students were learning the mode of what we called “process 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…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: July 12, 2019

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” ~John RuskinThis week’s collection of articles from around the web offers tools and advice for moving your academic writing projects forward. Whether that requires beating the summer writing blues, getting your PhD on track, thinking about the warrant for a paper, or building authority and expanding your network, this list has you covered. We also found insight on surviving the conference marathon and reasons researchers should volunteer for global evidence gathering processes.

Whatever your current writing entails, strive to make the product of your work that of highest quality. As John Ruskin once said, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” Happy writing! [Read more…]

The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment

The Where: Constructing an effective writing environmentOnce you know what you need to work on, establishing an environment with the right atmosphere, tools, and resources necessary for completing the project is equally important. In the previous article, we explored the first W – The What: Defining a research project.

In this article, we will focus on The Where: Constructing an effective writing environment. This discussion began with a self-reporting of participant writing environments and continued with discussion of ways to improve them.

Q1: How would you describe your current writing environment? [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: October 26, 2018

Excuses don't get it written.Several weeks ago, I saw a woman at my son’s karate dojo with a shirt that read “Excuses don’t burn calories.” This became the inspiration for this week’s quotable image, “Excuses don’t get it written.” Beginning this week’s collection of posts from around the Web is the topic of procrastination. Following that are strategies for reading, writing, revision, and data analysis. We then explore the problems of success, and close with some Open Access Week related content on OER and equitable participation in open research.

Whatever you’re working on this week, don’t put it off. After all, excuses don’t get it written (or burn calories). Happy writing! [Read more…]

Communicate visually to engage readers!

Examples of VisualsKress and others observe that a shift we are witnessing from words to pictures is interrelated with a shift from print to digital. This shift means movement from an emphasis on written communication to an emphasis on images and media. At the same time, it represents a move from the printed publication to the screen.

As academic writers, we need to rethink our attachment to the words, and look for new ways to communicate visually in books, articles, and ancillary resources. We also need to update our promotional and social media materials to attract attention in an information-overload environment.

One way is to use diagrams, visual maps, or illustrations to concisely communicate important ideas and key relationships. Another way is to show ways the ideas or problems are demonstrated in real situations. [Read more…]

Textbook and academic discussions – keep them going

Roundtable Sessions 2018If you were at the 31st Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Santa Fe, NM last weekend, you know the excitement and passion this group of authors shared throughout each session and networking opportunity. For the nearly 100 participants in the roundtable discussions held Saturday afternoon, there was much to talk about and some incredible ideas shared in the groups. Many participants expressed an interest in continuing these conversations beyond the conference. To this end, we have used the roundtable discussion topics to start eight threads in our LinkedIn group for just that reason.

If you were in attendance, we’d love for you to get the conversation started by sharing notes from the session with our LinkedIn group. If you weren’t able to attend (or were participating in another roundtable at the time), please share your insight, ideas, and questions in any or all of the discussions linked below. The roundtables just got bigger! Welcome to the table! [Read more…]

Get back on track: 4 types of writing stalls and how to recover

Stopping dominoes from fallingHave one or more of your writing projects seemed to stall? Do you have a project that needs finishing, but continues to be pushed aside? The good news is you’re not alone. The even better news is there are ways to identify what is keeping the project unfinished and to either move it forward or out of the way.

In her recent TAA webinar, Get Your Stalled Writing Project Back on Track, Joli Jensen, author of Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics, suggested that we “shift our attitude” regarding stalls and “acknowledge that stalls happen and are a natural part of the writing process.” By doing so, we can better identify the type of stall we are facing and apply structured techniques to overcome the stall. To help with this process, Jensen identified four types of writing stalls and methods for overcoming each. [Read more…]

Academic writing: Counting words of meaning?

Academic WriterOur priorities are reflected in our sense of professional identity. Are you an academic or a writer? Are you an instructor/researcher/research supervisor/committee member/conference presentation planner (not to mention parent, community volunteer and…) who is compelled to write in order to get, keep, or advance in a desired career? Do you see yourself as a writer who uses what you learn from your life and work to inspire others? Or are you looking for the right balance? [Read more…]