Associate Professor of Education Erin Marie Furtak shares her advice on creating a writing pipeline to stay productive from conception to publication (Chronicle of Higher Education).
A common bit of wisdom I’ve heard shared among academics is the 2-2-2 rule: Always have two manuscripts in preparation, two under review, and two in press. While that captures the need to have manuscripts in various stages at all times, there are many more categories than those three.
A few year ago, lamenting the challenges of this juggling act, senior scholars in my department advised me to start thinking about my manuscripts as occupying different places in a pipeline, with proposals on one end and published articles at the other. The goal: Keep your papers distributed along that pipeline, and flowing through.
I’ve two sources of quick but effective advice on writing academic book proposals to recommend.
For a successful former faculty member and continuing mentor’s point of view, Karen Kelsky’s columns from The Professor Is In at Chronicle Vitae offer focused advice to humanities and social sciences writers on strategizing and writing a book proposal:
Top Five Tips for Turning Your Dissertation Into a Book
How to Write a Book Proposal
For a former academic book editor’s point of view, Rachel Toor’s columns in The Chronicle of Higher Education provide some common sense food-for-thought about marketing the work:
The Reality of Writing a Good Book Proposal
How to Write a Good Book Proposal, the Sequel
Rachel Herrmann shares her experience in revising the dissertation into publications in this Chronicle article. She revised her chapters into articles and submitted the articles to top-tier journals in order to get detailed feedback for revision. She carefully guarded her time as she revised the whole into a book manuscript. The practical and disciplined strategies she used will be helpful to many early-career academic writers. Read the full article here:
Revising the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Dissertation
A new study funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and published in the Journal of Infometrics has found that science papers with simple abstracts have a citation advantage.
The study, conducted by Adrian Letchford, Tobias Preis, and Helen Susannah Moat found that abstracts that used the same words more frequently, used more frequently used words, were shorter, and used shorter words (under 5 letters) received more citations.
The authors’ conclusion? “Overall, our results suggest that the style in which a paper’s abstract is written may relate to the number of times the paper is cited.”
Retraction Watch provides a useful summary of the open-source paper (linked above.
In this Inside Higher Ed article, Nate Kreuter gives thoughtful advice to academic writers about how to curate their physical and social writing environments to enhance productivity.
Writing is an inherently social activity — we write for others — that we most often undertake in solitude. This is one of writing’s great contradictions. We write for an audience, even if that audience is a private note to our future selves. Academic writing, though, whether it is scholarly writing or the functional writing of service obligations that keeps the university running, is always intended for far less abstract audiences. This writing too, is most often undertaken in isolation, at least initially. For this reason, not only the physical environment where we write matters, but also the social environment within which we write.
The way to relax an examiner is to feature a sentence in the first paragraph of a PhD abstract that begins: “My original contribution to knowledge is…” If students cannot compress their argument and research findings into a single statement, then it can signify flabbiness in their method, theory or structure. It is an awful moment for examiners when they – desperately – try to find an original contribution to knowledge through a shapeless methods chapter or loose literature review. If examiners cannot pinpoint the original contribution, they have no choice but to award the script an MPhil…The key is to make it easy for examiners.
“How Not to Write a Ph.D. Thesis” by Tara Brabazon (Professor of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia) offers a doctoral advisor’s inside look into what makes a doctoral thesis successful–or not. Many of the insights are transferable across fields, including the signal importance of the bibliography. (Times Higher Education, 28 January 2010).