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…]

How to minimize distractions and disruptions while writing

Do not disturbUnlike most writing disciplines, textbook and academic writing must be balanced with the distractions and disruptions of the many demands of academic life, including teaching, committee assignments, and research.

Five TAA members share how they minimize distractions and disruptions while writing, including how they eliminate electronic distractions, make time for writing, use music to focus, and edit later. [Read more…]

10 Habits of highly productive writers

Hands on computer typing1) They reject the notion of “writer’s block” the way others shun gluten. Some people are truly unable to tolerate that vilified protein, but many more leap after a culprit to explain their dyspepsia or inability to refrain from carby deliciosity. Maybe cutting out a big food group makes it easier to stick to a diet than being careful about portion sizes of crusty bread and pasta puttanesca. Certainly there’s a comfort in diagnosis, relief in the idea that suffering can be linked to a thing that others also get. Likewise, it’s a lot easier to say that the muse has gone AWOL than to admit that writing is hard and requires discipline and sacrifice. [Read more…]

Join us for 9/17 TAA Webinar – Publish & Prosper: Strategies for Becoming a More Productive Scholar

Publish & Prosper: Strategies for Becoming a More Productive ScholarNathaniel LambertJoin us Wednesday, September 17 from 5-6 p.m. EDT for the one-hour webinar, “Publish & Prosper: Strategies for Becoming a More Productive Scholar,” presented by Nathaniel Mark Lambert, Ph.D., author of Publish and Prosper: A Strategy Guide for Students and Researchers. Free for Members. Click here to register
. Non-members: Join TAA for only $30. [Read more…]

9/17 TAA Webinar – Publish & Prosper: Strategies for Becoming a More Productive Scholar

Nathaniel Lambertpublish_and_prosperJoin us Wednesday, September 17 from 5-6 p.m. EDT for the one-hour webinar, “Publish & Prosper: Strategies for Becoming a More Productive Scholar,” presented by Nathaniel Mark Lambert, Ph.D., author of Publish and Prosper: A Strategy Guide for Students and Researchers. Free for Members. Click here to register
. Non-members: Join TAA for only $30.

Intended to help you succeed in academia by increasing your scholarly productivity, this webinar provides strategies for getting articles published quickly in reputable research journals. Rather than focusing on the basics of writing about results, this unique webinar provides tips on how to approach research, maintain motivation, maximize productivity, and overcome common pitfalls so as to become a productive scholar. The strategies reviewed will help you successfully navigate through graduate school, get a good job, receive grants and promotions, and make important contributions to your field. [Read more…]

3 Key principles for strong academic writing

Rachael CayleyIn her academic writing blog, “Explorations of Style”, Rachael Cayley offers three key principles for strong academic writing: 1) using writing to clarify your own thinking, 2) committing to extensive revision, and 3) understanding the needs of your reader­­. As a senior lecturer at the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, Cayley teaches academic writing and speaking to graduate students. Prior to that, she was an editor at Oxford University Press in Toronto. Her years of writing experience have convinced her of the connection between writing and thinking, the essentially iterative nature of academic writing, and the valuable role that audience awareness can play in the choices we make in our academic writing. [Read more…]