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…]

10 Tips on getting writing started

Many academics find sitting down at the computer and starting to write to be one of the most difficult challenges facing them. One reason for this, as one of my students put it so well, “if I never start, then I never fail.” Other reasons include getting out of the habit of writing—or never having a writing habit at all.

While tough to overcome, these obstacles do have some straightforward solutions. Here I share ten tips on getting your writing project started and moving it toward completion. [Read more…]

Dear Katy: Tips & strategies on setting boundaries

So many of the questions I am asked by my clients, colleagues, and friends boil down to boundaries. And no wonder, the world continually invents more ways for us to be connected across time and space all while our professional lives demand that we write, write well, and write quickly. To discuss this issue, I’ve rounded up a few questions about boundaries I’ve received to answer here, to both fulfill my lifelong goal to be an advice columnist (😉), and also to illustrate that boundaries are important for all of us, no matter our title, rank, or experience!

Q: “I am a newly appointed chair of my department, and my manuscript is due at the end of 2019. I know that campus will not be a useful writing space for me, but I’m also not the best at writing at home, or in other spaces. How can I make this work for me?” [Read more…]

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

Trust yourselfThis week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with prompts to stimulate your thinking and methods for finding papers for your literature review. It continues with the importance of validating faculty research, consideration of your timeline for finishing a PhD, and expectations when presenting research to an industry audience. Finally, we have some noteworthy industry news on cost per use value models, the value of the big deal, the Cengage-McGraw Hill merger, and a new textbook model at UC Davis.

Neil Gaiman once said, “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” This week, trust yourself and happy writing! [Read more…]

TAA’s 2020 Conference Call for Proposals

TAA is accepting session proposals for its 33rd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference. We invite the submission of presentations relevant to writing, publishing, and marketing textbooks and academic works (journal articles, books, and monographs). The proposal deadline is October 7, 2019.

TAA’s conference will be held at The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter located in the heart of beautiful downtown San Diego, CA, June 12-13, 2020. A highly interactive event, the conference will be attended by authors and aspiring authors of textbooks, journal articles, and other academic works, as well as by industry professionals from across the country. [Read more…]

Free Download – Textbook Award-Winning Insight

Textbook Award Winning InsightSeveral winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards shared insight into the writing and publishing of their award-winning textbooks, which we have compiled into this free ebook download, “Textbook Award-Winning Insight”. Topics include:

  • Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher
  • Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software
  • Pedagogy and marketing involvement
  • What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice
  • Key to textbook longevity, preparing for the next edition

Download

View TAA’s entire library of ebooks

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: August 16, 2019

“I start with a question. Then try to answer it.” – Mary Lee SettleMary Lee Settle once said, “I start with a question. Then try to answer it.” Isn’t this the foundation of academic work and writing? To find answers to questions. This week’s collection of articles from around the web share a few answers as well as new questions important to authors.

For those asking about the right tools for academic writing, we may have the answers in our first couple links. Wondering if there is a better way to describe academic writing than the pre-writing, writing, and post writing revision description commonly used, Pat Thomson may have the answer below. Questioning quality criteria in scholarship and science or the liability associated with linking to content on Sci-Hub, answers may await in this week’s collection. We also may have some answers (and even more questions) related to applying for an alt-ac job, teaching research methods, the future of FAIR, and the most recent law suit against Cengage by authors.

The world of textbook and academic writing is filled with questions and answers – some of which lead us to even more questions. This week, challenge yourself to answer the questions you have and to share them through your work. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Selecting visuals to illustrate your post, article, or book

Enhance Your Writing: How to Design, Select or Create Effective VisualsIt was great to see many TAA members at the recent conference in Philadelphia! Since not everyone could attend, I’m sharing my presentation about “Enhance Your Writing: How to Design, Select or Create Effective Visuals” in this and future Abstract posts. See the previous post, Figuring it out: Trends for visuals in academic writing. Next month I will write about ways to create original visuals.

Yes, you need visuals! [Read more…]

Infographic: 15 Grammar rules it’s okay to break

“Use whom, not who.” “Don’t split your infinitives.” “Use appropriate personal pronouns when talking about yourself.”

Grammar rules are here to keep us in check, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be broken. Often you’ll see infographics listing rules like they’re gospel; stuff like, “Don’t use double negatives” or, “Know the difference between that and which”.

In reality, some grammar rules are more of a guideline than a law. When you know the rules, these can be expertly appropriated to give your speech flair and personality. [Read more…]

9 Proven strategies to help you stop procrastinating and write your manuscript

blank pageIn her recent TAA webinar, “Beyond the Blank Page: 9 Proven Strategies to Help You Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Manuscript”, Mary Beth Averill shared nine strategies for moving beyond the blank page. These strategies are proven techniques for breaking out of your procrastination trap and turning your paper from idea to written manuscript. [Read more…]