Managing an Academic Career. Topics. Why Write? What obstacles do you face as a writer? What constitutes research and scholarship? How can I support my research and writing goals?. Goals. Help you identify and overcome the obstacles you face as a writer
write for pleasure or to gratify "the need.”
write to advance knowledge (i.e., to be a producer rather than a consumer of knowledge).
write to understand material better
write to improve teaching.
write to join the academic community and "the invisible college."
write to improve career options.
write to earn money (e.g., grants, textbooks, commercial articles)
write for Tenure/Promotion/Career Advancement
Total number of books published in the U.S. in 2000, all publishers: 60,000
Total U.S. book sales in 2000: $25 billionRevenue per title, all U.S. publishers: $417,000
Write to experience ideas, places, concepts that are impossible for you outside of your imagination
Ten to fifteen per cent of the professoriate publishes 95% of what’s published!Why?
There's too much academic writing.Research suggests that the bulk of scholarship is produced by a relatively small number of scholars: only about 10 to 20 percent of our colleagues appear to be responsible for the bulk of what's published (Jalongo; Boyer; Sykes; Simonton). In "Why Academicians Don't Write," Robert Boice and Ferdinand Jones conclude "The median number of scholarly publications for even the most prolific disciplines like psychology is zero. . . . Most academicians who do write contribute infrequently; as few as 10 percent of writers in specific areas account for over 50 percent of the literature. . ." (568).
2. Scholarship interferes with teaching.But, in fact, studies of academics in these settings [community colleges] show that while teaching loads are double and that publications are half those of major research universities, proportionately as many faculty at teaching campuses manage to publish at respectable rates as at research campuses.
(Boice, "Strategies for Enhancing Scholarly Productivity" in Writing and Publishing for Academic Authors.)
Bob Boice (1989)
4. Academic publishing is a genteel profession, carried on by scholars without concern for market considerations. Writing should be a lonely craft conducted by introverts. Writers work best sitting alone at their desks.
5. Gifted scholars know what they will write about before writing. They rarely revise.
6. Because writers should think and then write, they should delay writing until they have completed their research.
7. Once written, the word is final.
The peer-review process is fair and objective.
After examining “ 402 reviews of 153 papers submitted to 12 editors of American Psychological Association journals” Douglas Fiske and Louis Fogg concluded “ In the typical case, two reviews of the same paper had no critical point in common.”
It seemed that reviewers did not overtly disagree on particular points; instead, they wrote about different topics, each making points that were appropriate and accurate. As a consequence, their recommendations about editorial decisions showed hardly any agreement” (591).
Source: Fiske, Donald W. & Louis Fogg. American Psychologist (May 1990): 591-597.
Don’t take criticism personally. Focus on the positive. Don’t waste your energies writing to editors and telling them why they were fools to reject your ideas. Instead, place your energies into moving forward. Either immediately revise the manuscript or send it back out for consideration elsewhere.
Don’t try to critique your work at the last minute. This is impossible.
When writing, don’t worry about criticism.
Keep the manuscripts in the mail, yet don’t mail junk! When you submit something, be sure it’s as good as you can make it, or, at the very least, that it won’t embarrass you.
Please “freewrite” for 3-5 minutes (i.e., write without stopping in response to the following prompt):
The obstacles that interfere with my achieving my research and writing goals are . . .
What counts as research and scholarship?
What expectations guide the salary, tenure, and promotion decisions?
Network. Attend conferences, write book reviews, and get to know leading editors, researchers, and scholars in your field.
Networking cannot substitute for good research, but good research cannot substitute for networking either. You can't get a job or a grant or any recognition for your accomplishments unless you keep up to date with the people in your community (Agee)
Be aware of Scholarly Discussions. Subscribe to E-Lists in your discipline
Write letters or e-mail notes to other scholars when you have questions.
Volunteer your services as a consulting reader for the journals and book publishers in your discipline.
Interview a major theorist or editor in your field and publish the interview in a professional journal.
When you cite someone extensively in an article, send them a copy of the published version.
Here is the procedure: (a) choose someone you wish to approach and read their work with some care; (b) make sure that your article cites their work in some substantial way (in addition to all your other citations); (c) mail the person a copy of your article; and (d) include a low-key, one-page cover letter that says something intelligent about their work. If your work and theirs could be seen to overlap, include a concise statement of the relationship you see between them. The tone of this letter counts. Project ordinary, calm self-confidence. (Agre)
Consider editing an anthology of original essays
Create a disciplinary Web site.
Coauthor and co-edit projects.
Have your research proposals and research designs critiqued by established scholars before conducting a study. Share rough drafts of your work in-progress with peers, productive scholars, and editors.
Use the peer-review process to solicit tough criticisms.
Subscribe to The Chronicle’s job information service
Join the COS (Community of Science)
After reviewing the contents of major journals conferences,
What important new research trends can you identify? Seek New Patterns, Research Methodologies, Metaphors, and Connections Across Disciplines
Decide on a publisher—better yet, a list of five to ten possible publishers—before writing the report or conducting the research.