Author Tech Tool Suggestions: For the Tech Bewildered

By John Bond

We are living in a Golden Age of technology for authors. But sometimes these new or improved tools can be intimidating. Here are some simple steps for getting started on considering these tools that might improve your writing output and quality.

Before we start, take an inventory:

  • Currently am I making the best use of my time?
  • Will new tools make me more productive?
  • What’s wrong with your current tools?
  • What is available to you now through your institution?
  • What’s your motivation for a change?

Academese: Are You Narrowing Your Audience By Not Speaking Their Language?

By Sierra Pawlak

During TAA’s May 2024 Conversation Circle, several members shared their experiences with ‘academese’ and tips for how academic writers can avoid it in their writing. Academese is characterized by writing that is heavily filled with jargon, overcomplicated language, and/or convoluted sentence structure (Wikipedia).

“The biggest sin in academic writing is the passive voice,” said Barbara Nostrand, an Aquisitions Editor at Gakumon and Senior Fellow at the de Moivre Institute. “It makes it much more difficult for the reader to understand what’s been written, and it’s completely unnecessary.” She recommends using the active voice instead, for example, ‘I saw’, ‘I observed’: “A trick to doing that is to move the verb as close to the beginning of the sentence as possible.” She recommends that people read “The Art Of Readable Writing” by Rudolf Flesch: “An important tip from that book, put yourself and your team into your writing. Begin sentences with words such as I, we, and the names of specific people.” Nostrand also recommended sentences be as short as possible, and no longer than twenty words. “Every generation of writers since Shakespeare has written shorter sentences than their forebears,” said Nostrand. “Motion picture shots have also been getting shorter and shorter.” Nostrand also said to “not be afraid of technical terms,” but that you should define jargon that your intended audience shouldn’t be expected to know.

Before You Start Writing: Identify the Journal You Want to Publish In

By Sierra Pawlak

Dave Harris, an editor and writing coach from Thought Clearing, says identifying the journal you want to publish in early helps you decide what goes into the paper you write.

“You want to identify what journal you’re writing to first, because every journal is different, and if you’re not doing a good job of targeting your article to a specific journal, you’re going to have a harder time getting accepted,” he said, during the April 2024 TAA Conversation Circle discussion on the topic of literature reviews. “At some point where you’ve got this research project that you’ve done and you’re trying to write it up, that’s when you say, ‘here’s the journal I want to go to,’ and you start there, thinking about how to frame your material to suit the journal.”

From the Archives – Articles on ‘Writer’s Block’ From TAA Report, Compiled by TAA Member Phil Wankat

The tenth installment of TAA Member Phil Wankat’s curation and commentary of the archival issues of the TAA Report (now The Academic Author), Writer’s Block, is now available. Articles include “Emotional Aspects of Writer’s Block,” “Cognitive Aspects of Writer’s Block,” and “The New Paradox of the College Textbook.”

TAA Featured in Episode of The A&P Professor Podcast

TAA was featured in an episode of The A&P Professor podcast on April 12, “Pulse of Progress, Looking Back, Moving Forward,” with host Kevin Patton, an award-winning anatomy and physiology textbook author. Kevin’s comments about the benefits of TAA membership and invitation to attend TAA’s 2024 Conference on Textbook & Academic Authoring come in at 50:22.

In the episode, Kevin says: “With a strongly supportive network of colleagues, TAA provides many resources and active, engaging opportunities for growth and network-forming. TAA meets the needs of those interested in creating textbooks, lab manuals, workbooks, and other learning resources, as well as those who focus on academic writing, such as journal articles, dissertations/theses, monographs, and scholarly or other nonfiction works.”