This week the #Acwri live chat was all about using Twitter for Academic Writing. This chat was well attended and lively and encouraged a lot of discussion. A written summary of the chat can be read in todays post but if you would like to read the chat in full, which includes the key Tweets from the discussion, you can view them on Storify.
The conversation started with some reflection on why academics are using Twitter. Responses ranged from finding relevant communities of practice, keeping in touch with people efficiently and quickly, keeping networks alive, reaching a bigger audience, making connections across space and between groups, to be social, to find out about things and stay up to date, to share #acwri outputs, and to be at the intersection of multi-disciplinary conversations relevant to individual work. These responses indicate the diversity of reasons for using Twitter as an academic.
Others also consider it good for practicing concise writing (in only 140 characters), setting goals and asking questions. One user even argued that they use Twitter as a way of keeping notes (@strictlykaren). This led to some discussion about using Twitter to link to other content, such as blogs, where discussion can continue elsewhere.
A significant thread of conversation in the early stages of the chat was that many enjoy live Tweeting from conferences, but also have some concerns about it. People question when it is appropriate to do it and how often, during a talk for fear of taking over Twitter feeds.
Challenges with Twitter writing were also explored. Errors in spelling and grammar were commonly discussed. One Tweeter felt that tweets were less coherent and bitty, rather than an argument (@spani3l). Some did not like when people swear and rant, and others dislike when individuals write lots of Tweets one after the other. @helen_kara responded to this well saying “Don’t drink (much) & Tweet”. This led to a conversation about how Twitter is used. Many use it semi-professionally or professionally. Consequently developing an academic identity on Twitter is important. Many are aware of the public nature of Twitter content and therefore the need for appropriate conduct. There was a difference in opinion about using Twitter only for professional discussion and sometimes for including more casual talk. An interesting distinction was made between the use of Twitter for work and Facebook for personal interaction.
The conversation ended with some discussion of the use of G+ (Google Plus) rather than Twitter for academic writing and communication. Conversation was described as much more natural and substantial on G+, despite the fact that less academics are currently using it than Twitter. There is some resistance to being on another social network but @spani3l likes the fact that it can be used for multiple tasks such as video conferencing and having more sustained conversations.
What are your opinions on using Twitter for academic writing? Does anyone have any experience of G+?
Do you have a Twitter account? Are you interested in all things academic writing? Have you got any questions or concerns about your academic writing that you want some advice about? If any, or all of these questions apply to you why not take a look at the #acwri hashtag on Twitter? Making great use of the tag is a burgeoning community of writers all discussing their writing goals and ambitions, trails and tribulations. You can get great advice from individuals at all career stages about academic writing and really benefit from sharing your own experiences. To find out more about the #acwri initiative take a look at our Live Chat page.
As part of #acwri we also run a fortnightly live chat and the next one is taking place on Twitter this Thursday, 20th September, at 8pm UK time. Please do come along and take part. We like to ensure that the #acwri community has some say in what we discuss and you can now vote for your preferred topic in the Tweet Poll below. The topic that receives the most votes will be the one we discuss on Thursday.
If you can’t make it to the chat don’t despair! We also write a summary of each chat that is posted to this site so you can still benefit from the collective learning. You can check out previous chats now in the Live Chat tab Archive.
Hope to see/meet you soon!
This week the #Acwri live chat was all about Writing with others. Contributors to the discussions had a varied amount of experience, sharing tips, asking questions and exploring the challenges of this kind of writing. A written summary of the chat can be read in todays post but if you would like to read the chat in full, which includes the key Tweets from the discussion, you can view them on Storify.
Discussions initially focused on the advantages and disadvantages of writing with others. Advantages included the quicker speed at which writing with others could result in a final draft; the fun and stimulating nature of writing with others; bringing different perspectives to the table; developing greater understanding of topics through learning from co-authors; getting the opportunity to see others write; boosting confidence; sharing the agony of getting first words in the page and developing good academic practice showing you can work as both a leader and a team worker.
Discussion of possible disadvantages and difficulties that emerged included letting go of possessiveness over ideas; ensuring the project is suited to multiple authorship; negotiating different writing styles; working with tardy authors or those unaware of deadlines.
These kinds of discussions led to tips abut what makes for a good process for writing with others and what makes for a good co-author relationship. In terms of valuing a co-author, traits including consideration of each others’ strengths and interests; writing with others equally committed to a project and compromising were all respected.
Good processes for writing with others included initial planning of who would be involved and what would be discussed in the project; considering the author order; deciding on the role of each author before starting and deciding on process. Many felt that assigning lead authors, editors and those giving feedback was important to the organization of collaborative piece.
We discussed differences between physically writing together and working across distance. Many felt that working together in projects in the same physical space was very helpful. Anyone working with more than 2 co-authors felt this raised its own challenges and is not always desirable.
Finally it was felt that co-authorship was only achieved if both authors did more than peer review the piece and finding a voice for a piece was deemed important for developing a coherent writing style throughout. Creating a voice was considered to be the role of the first author.
Our latest #acwri live chat on Twitter was open topic so we didn’t have any pre-set topic choices. Both me and Jeremy chaired this chat. With our now well established community this resulted in a heady mix of discussion focusing on a variety of academic writing related topics. These have been summarised as always on Storify by Jeremy and you can read it below. The aim is too provide some really helpful tips, to encourage thinking about academic writing and kick start thinking about the one of the key foundations of academic life/work; writing.
The latest Twitter chat was chaired by Jeremy and was all about editing and revising academic writing. This followed the first #acwri live chat held in Australia/South Pacific time as well, chaired by Studious Jenn. You can find out about the live chats as well the new one at our About page. Editing and revising was voted as the preferred topic by the #acwri community on Twitter. The summary and key points form the UK time chat are documented below:
Today’s summary of our #acwri Twitter live chat is all about why academics write, and not just because we have too! The idea of the chat topic was to encourage the community to really think about the reasons for writing as a way of motivating us but also having an open and frank discussion about the things we write and the ways we disseminate our ideas. This resulted in a great discussion, of which the key points are listed below:
For those of you who don’t know much about #Acwri you can read about us here. But in a nutshell, the aim is that once a fortnight, we invite academic writers at any stage of their career to discuss a particular aspect of the writing process. The aim is to share problems, ideas and solutions, and provide a supportive peer network. So far we have discussed a range of topics including writing journal articles, writing conference papers and writing research proposals. The summaries from these talks are posted on both PhD2Published and Jeremy’s website.
The group seems (from our perspective) to be meeting the aims we set out with, and we’re proposing to continue running the group every two weeks without any major changes. But we have a few ideas about how to make it run slightly better, and would welcome your thoughts and ideas.
One change we’ve already made is to create a dedicated @acwri Twitter account that you can follow, which we’ll use to publicise our meetings, chair the discussion, and spread awareness of the group. This should hopefully help give #Acwri a clearer, more visible identity.
Our meetings will continue to be on alternate Thursday evenings, but we’re going to change the time from 6pm to 8pm, to make it easier for UK folks to join in, as the current 6pm start clashes with many people’s evening commute and family commitments. Do let us know what you think!
Over the summer we’ll be meeting on 2nd August, 16th August, and then taking a break until Thursday 6th September. The 16th August meeting will be an ‘open house’ – a chance for anyone to share what they’re writing about, problems/challenges they’re facing, and tips on how to keep the motivation and the writing going over the long hot summer.
For all our other meetings we’ll be taking on a particular theme. We need people to suggest the kinds of things they’d like to discuss. From these ideas we’ll create a poll with a choice of topics for each meeting, and the most popular one wins. We’ve used this system for some of our previous chats, but it will now be something we try to do for every #Acwri session.
The two of us @DrAnnaTarrant and @DrJeremySegrott will continue to take turns at chairing the sessions and summarising the discussion on our websites (Dr Jeremy Segrott and PhD2Published), but we’ll also invite the winner of the topic poll to kick off each session by telling everyone why they chose the subject, and highlighting some of the key points they think are important.
Plans are also afoot to set up a parallel #Acwri group for Australia and Asia, as the current #Acwri group takes place in the early hours of the morning there.
Let us know what you’d like #Acwri to discuss, and any other ideas about how we should develop the group.
For graduate students and junior faculty, book reviews can be a way to dip your toes in the publishing realm of academic journals. Although peer-reviewed articles are the pinnacle for publishing and tenure, I do not think academic book reviews should be scoffed at. A book review is a great way to engage, comment, and contribute on a colleague’s work in the field. More importantly, a refereed journal publication review can be a fun piece to hone your writing, develop your analytical reading skills, and provide interesting insights for your fellow researchers to read.
The process of writing a book review encourages academic researchers to engage in the literature. Often, the practices of summarizing chapters and restating ideas provides the book reviewer how to read a book to understand the author’s key points. A great book review will weave the text into the current academic subject.
Here are some general guidelines for book reviews I have seen in academic journals and suggested practices from those who are writing #acwri book reviews:
- Read – Check out book reviews in journals that you might be interested in publishing in 1st. See what books are being selected for review & check out the format/style.
- Good Publications to Review – Find a book that highlights issues or resources relevant to the field and/or subject of the academic journal you are submitting to
- Describe & evaluate - focus on the book’s purpose, contents, format, and authority
- Not Just a Summary - Positions and opinions should be supported with a logical argument and review the pertinent literature. Highlight strengths and weaknesses of the publication, and why this book is interesting and/or useful.
- Be constructive with your criticism. Remember to be kind and respectful to the author(s). A great deal of effort on the author, editorial board, blind review, etc. has been put into this text. Choose to be constructive with your criticism.
- Provide your thoughts on the book – use quotes sparingly. Readers will be interested in what YOU have to say.
- Share key ideas. What is the main idea of the work? What does this publication contribute to the field?
- Review Your Review - try to read from the vantage point of your audience. Is there too much/enough summary? Does your argument or key thoughts about the text make sense?
Typically academic journals will accept book reviews for publications that have been released within the year that highlights issues or resources relevant to that journal topic, genre, or field. If you are lucky, some journals might even purchase the book for you to review. It would be important to select a text that would offer solutions or directions to the field, and it would be helpful to verify with the editor if the publication would be appropriate to review. Sometimes, journals will give preference in the review process to book review essays that comment on two or more related books
In thinking about the book review requirements for the Learning and Performance Quarterly journal, I took a gander at a number of scholarly sources that published book reviews. Here are some of the common technical requirements* for academic book reviews:
- Reviews of publications within the recent year, i.e. 2011 or later would be acceptable now
- Include the title, author(s), year, publisher, publisher location, ISBN, cost, book format, and page numbers of the book(s) under review.
- Keep it simple. Typically book reviews are between 600 to 2000 words (unless you are reviewing a period or series of books).
- An abstract of 150 words or less might be required to accompany the book review.
- Draft a short biography and/or contact information to be included at the end of your book review.
- *Follow ANY and ALL other book review requirements for your specific journal of choice.
Happy #acwri reading & reviewing!
Laura Pasquini is a doctoral student in the Department of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas, and editor for the Learning and Performance Quarterly journal. She can be found tweeting as @laurapasquini and blogging here.
The latest #acwri live chat was held on Thursday 7th June 2012 at 6pm on Twitter, chaired by PhD2Published. This week the community voted for the topic ‘Tools for academic writing’. The chat was well attended and lively and has created a great resource for all academic writers (and indeed writers!). Included are some fantastic links to different websites and software that can be used to boost writing processes and productivity including Scrivener, Mendeley and 750 words.com. Dr Jeremy Segrott has now Storified the chat (below).
You may have noticed that PhD2Published has been very busy recently chairing live chats on Twitter (#acwri) and collecting various blog posts, all concerned with the process of academic writing. Charlotte initially set up PhD2Published to find out more about academic publishing and to make use of it as a space built around peer-to-peer sharing. As Managing Editor I have tried to emulate this ethos and have found this to be incredibly useful so far. With this in mind, I am currently engaging in regular dialogues through both this site and other forms of social media to learn more about what is essentially the foundation of academic publishing; writing.
Spurred on to some extent by Charlottes AcBoWriMo initiative back in November 2011 and a chat initiated by Dr Jeremy Segrott on Twitter, it is clear that many academics have the desire to discuss and explore issues around their shared experiences of academic writing and how this may subsequently lead to different forms of written publication. In participating in this newly established online community and with the desire to share what I am learning, I have come across several useful resources that focus on just this topic and I wanted to share one in particular here today. Carol Smart’s discussion of academic writing is interesting because she explicitly confronts the particular challenges and problems faced by academic writers and offers potential shifts in thinking that may make dealing with these challenges more workable.
In The Emotional Challenges of Writing (available as a video and a written transcript) Carol draws on personal experiences to think about how difficulties in writing may be overcome. It is initially helpful that she acknowledges that writing can be challenging, even for those who are technically gifted or very experienced. I often feel frustrated that I can’t get words down on a page even though I know how to do it, so it is comforting to recognise that this is not just an issue with me. Carol argues that the reasons for these challenges often stem from the kinds of emotional questions that inevitably arise when embarking on a new project or writing task; what will my peers think? Am I as good as my peers?, and so on. She also recognises that academic writing produces often contradictory feelings and insecurities in individuals and that it can be depressing and overwhelming at times. Her suggestion for overcoming this is to try to become more aware of your personal writing rhythms, no matter how peculiar they may be and lighten up a bit about what you want to say. As she rightly points out, writing is about being part of a conversation rather than setting something down in stone.
I particularly like what she has to say about getting stuck with writing. Quite often when I write I have little idea what it is I am trying to argue and I worry that this is wrong or means my thinking and writing lacks rigour. Carol suggests though that she also does this, particularly when deriving ideas from data. While at times this may lead to dead ends, this can actually become part of the creativity of writing (and thinking) that also makes it very enjoyable.
Even though Carol’s full discussion is available online, I have briefly reviewed this resource as a way of opening up a dialogue on the PhD2Published site about academic writing. Not everyone is on Twitter or is able to join the live chats so this post is intended to be a catalyst for continuing a conversation about academic writing online and extending its reach. I genuinely believe, as do others, that academic writing is the foundation of academic publishing, yet it is also fraught with emotional and technical difficulties that are easier to acknowledge and hopefully overcome in a peer-to-peer sharing space. Please do post any useful resources that focus on academic writing that you come across here and do raise questions and discussion. What are the main challenges you face as an academic writer? What kinds of writing do you find most challenging? What do you want to learn more about from more experienced writers?
INCLUDE SINGLE-AUTHOR PAPERS IN YOUR PORTFOLIO. Review committees wonder about people who always publish with someone else. Did they do the work or did they ride the coauthor’s coattails? Were they the first author? If you must coauthor, pick people whose names follow yours alphabetically and then suggest that your name really belongs first. (Choosing the order by drawing lots, as was done for this book, is not recommended.) If you are unfortunate enough to be named Zyzygy, go to court and get it changed.