#AcWri, #AcWriMo, #AcWriSummer, #HEdigID, Higher Education, highered

#HEdigID Chat No. 5: Renew, Refresh, Reboot, Restart Your Academic Writing with Janet Salmons (@einterview) #AcWri

Hello Summer! This year, I am committing to my own projects, design, developments, and ACADEMIC WRITING (#AcWri)! That’s right. I’ve opted to NOT instruct any courses during the summer term. This is a first since I started my faculty career (Fall 2014). This is also an intentional choice. Things are building up and projects need to be completed. I decided this summer will be dedicated to completing ALL THE THINGS! This includes research projects in-progress (data collection, cleaning, coding, and analysis) and getting these to the right publication outlets and avenues.

So based on these goals and writing objectives, I’m thrilled to kick off this summer with a timely Higher Ed Digital Identity (#HEdigID) Chat:

#HEdigID Chat TOPIC: Renew, Refresh, Reboot, Restart Your Academic Writing

This Friday, June 8th the #HEdigID chat will be moderated (MOD) by Janet Salmons (@einterview) to sort out these forgotten or neglected academic writing (#AcWri) projects. This ALL DAY conversation will be hosted on Twitter with the hashtag: #HEdigID and via this OPEN Google doc: http://bit.ly/hedigid5

Do you have goals to get working on a writing project this summer? Are you changing your career goals, and this requires getting a few publications out the door? OR, if you have a writing project you’ve pushed to the side or you have neglected — then this #HEdigID chat is FOR YOU (and me).

“Academic writing includes more moving parts than other types, meaning we have more excuses for setting aside an unfinished piece of work.” ~ Janet Salmons

With a number of things to consider (e.g. updates to your literature review, methods for analysis, or even outlets to publish), you might just need this #HEdigID chat to get you to return to your own writing piece. Whether you are feeling excited or overwhelmed with your own academic writing, come join the online discussion to share what YOU hope to accomplish for your summer writing goals.

Here are the QUESTIONS you will see appear on Twitter and in the Google doc for your responses TODAY (June 8th) for this #HEdigID ALL-DAY digital chat:

  1. Please introduce yourself. Feel free to include: Where are you located? Where you work and/or your role? What you’re writing and working on these days? AND/OR Tell us your favorite place to write! #AcWri #AcWriChat
  2. Tell us about a writing project that you have left behind, let go, or let die. How long ago? What got in the way or prevented you from finishing this #AcWri project?
  3. Describe what kind of writing project are you trying to revive. What is this #AcWri project? Thesis/dissertation? Article? Chapter or book? Report or other professional writing? Please share!
  4. Is it time to revive this writing project? Reflect on your #AcWri purpose, in the context of your goals, do they match? E.g. Should this journal article now be a white paper report and/or blog post? Have you thought differently about a book chapter or book idea format?
  5. Let’s talk about updating this writing project: Is your literature review AND/OR your data out of date? What writing tasks, obstacles, and research will you need to work on to UPDATE this #AcWri piece?
  6. Does your writing PRACTICE or TOOLS need some updating to help you be productive with your project? What areas of writing practice support do you need? What #AcWri suggestions do you have for writers to be effective with their writing process?How will you commit to rebooting this academic writing project? What strategies and ideas do you have to be accountable to this #AcWri plan? Please share SUGGESTIONS and IDEAS for staying on track with this writing project revival!
  7. Final Thought (FT): What is one new SPARK or REASON you are inspired you to return to this academic writing project? What will drive you to prioritize this #AcWri project and commit to finishing it this time?

Converse with us? Join in discuss these questions and more! How to participate:

  • Tweet your response with the hashtag: #HEdigID

  • Share more in this Google Doc: http://bit.ly/hedigid5

  • Use these questions to draft your own personal reflection and response (e.g. blog post, video, audio, drawing or offline discussion)

  • Lurk and learn!

 

Update June 12, 2018:

ARCHIVE of the Tweets from this #HEdigID Chat

Follow-up blog post from the #HEdigID MOD, @einterivew: Keeping Writing Projects Alive

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

Still Writing and Working On My Practice

In reading Dani Shapiro’s book, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of Creative Life, she shares different segments of advice for her own creative writing practice. Much of this book is focused on her journey and experience of her own writing crafts, with anecdotes for what she has learned in the process of her creative work. Although this was not intended for academic writing practice, I think Shapiro shares helpful suggestions for academic writers and early career scholars to borrow as they develop their own writing process. It is through the beginnings, middles, and ends of writing, where some of the writing advice shares reflections and advice on writing during the struggle and flow times.

Here are a few pieces of advice from Shapiro (2013) that resonated with me the most, as I thought about how I continue to develop my own writing practice:

  • Being Present: “Drop down, drop in” (p. 59). Being concentrated and directed in your writing process is a critical way to hone the craft of academic scholarship. Be focused on a single task when your are writing. Make this your primary and only priority. Consider ways to engross yourself in your writing work or project at hand. What ways do you prepare yourself to be present in your writing? How are you dropping into your writing to be in it each day?
  • Rhythm: “…3 pages a day, 5 days a week” (p. 100) is Shapiro’s writing pattern or habit. What is your writing rhythm? What sort of continued pattern are you developing for your writing practice? Think about this as a habit, and consider how you develop a pattern or rhythm of writing actions around this habit. How are you building rhythm with your writing and research work? What is your schedule for treating writing as work?
  • Practice: “Practice involves discipline but is more closely related to patience” (p. 131). I would say returning to the process and understanding that writing and academic work is more of a marathon. Your writing practice will involve your willingness to continue the work and know that your incremental writing practice is contributing to the larger project, piece, or manuscript. Keep at it! What keeps your patience in check for daily writing practice? How do you  maintain motivation with on-going writing projects or revisions on manuscripts?
  • Cigarette Break: “gazing out the window at the courtyard below, and allowing my thoughts to sort themselves out… writers require that ritualized dream time” (p. 158). I don’t smoke, but I can see the value in stepping away to space out. Taking a pause to breathe and ponder work without distraction is vital. Breaks offer writers a critical time to process thoughts, ideas, and concepts. Maybe you step away from your desk, leave your screen and devices, and find a space to just take a pause to have a bit of a think. Let your mind wander and see what comes about from a bit of spaced out time when you’re not creating or doing. How do you find mental space to space out or mind wander? How do you encourage creative thoughts to stew with your writing practice and when you’re engrossed in research projects?
  • Steward: “Don’t leave that essential place. Be a good steward to your gifts” (p. 207). Figure out how to best protect your own writing craft and these habits. Stewardship means tending to the needs and practices you require to be productive in your writing work. Is there a particular place that lends to your productive writing practice? Are there particular times and days that allows you to write your best? What are the essential tools you will need to focus on writing or working on a particular research project? How do you create a bubble or force-field around this writing space and time?

 

Reference:

Shapiro, D. (2013). Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of Creative Life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

#AcWri, Reflections

On Slow Writing #AcWri

Louise DeSalvo (2014) offers writers a number of tidbits about the art of writer’s craft in her book, The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. I’m grateful for hearing about this book on a recent episode of You’ve Got This podcast (Thanks, Katie!), as it has helped me think about how to best set up my own writing this year. I have quite a bit of data and projects on the go, so this book helped me frame how I’ll be both “Labor and Management,” identify the need to keep a “Ship’s Log” for my writing accountability, and to maintain the critical check ins I have set with my “Writing Partners” for support. Although this text offers bits and pieces of advice for and from fictional writers, I think this advice can be applied for those of us writing scholarly papers and publications as well.

One section of the book, DeSalvo shares how her son picks up skills in a way that is like a self-created, self-directed apprenticeships. I think I do a bit of this as well to “self-improve” or learn more about the HOW TO do a task in academia. As you can see, I am reading this book to support my own craft of writing and discipline to produce publications. This snippet of Savlo’s book gave me pause for reflection and reminded me to persist onward for the long, slow work ahead — so I thought I share for others who are grinding out their own writing projects:

“Expect to fail for a long time. Be patient. Read widely in your field and learn about antecedents and contemporaries so you’re not working in a vacuum Seek out the finest examples and learn from them. Find out how other people in other fields create and make a habit of learning something you can apply to your work or your process from each encounter. Seek out and talk to writers. Learn how books are made – learn about publishing and self-publishing. Learn how long it takes to become proficient, how long it takes to write a book and get it published, so you don’t have false expectations. If you choose to, and can afford to, find the best teachers and listen when they critique your work, though this isn’t essential – many successful writers never had formal training in their craft. Join a community of practitioners and give back – pass on what you know. And finally, echoing Ira Glass, don’t give up too soon” (Salvo, 2014, pp. 79-80).

Writing IS A PROCESS. This process IS SLOW, and it continues to push on in a steady pace.  Great pieces of work don’t always get accomplished overnight, and it does require some dedication and determination to get to that writing finish line (+revisions, of course). Hang in there fellow, #AcWri friends. Now, let’s get back to work and #ShutUpAndWrite. #GoScholarsGo

Reference:

DeSalvo, L. (2014). The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

#AcWri, #LTEC6040, #phdchat, Research, Research Methods

Search and Organize: The Literature Review

 

As you launch into a new research project, it is critical to think about how you will SEARCH and STORE an empirical literature search. Much of this organization starts with identifying a well-defined topic of study, and then identifying literature and scholarship around the previous work in this area. This process should support how you define your research topic scope/focus (e.g. inclusions/exclusions), established research methods (e.g.data collection/analysis), existing results/findings, and potential research suggestions for further investigations.

Step 1. Identify and Select a Research Topic to Study

For my #LTEC6040 early career scholars, the focus of study is geared towards digital learning/teaching. To prepare for a literature search, I suggest a few preliminary steps to SELECT and IDENTIFY a specific TOPIC for their research projects:

  • Interest: Find something you want to know more about so you remain interested and engaged in the project investigation. This might be related to your research agenda, either for your thesis/dissertation or general interests of study.
  • Ideas: Browse current periodicals (e.g. The Atlantic, Education: NPRNew York Times, Time), and online news resources for trends in the field you are looking at for digital teaching/learning (e.g. Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle, Ed Surge, etc.).
  • Scope: Is your topic manageable? Avoid choosing a research topic that is too broad (too much information) or too narrow (too specialized/new/limited in appeal to find enough information). Consider limiting the time span, identifying a specific digital learning setting, or limiting this to a particular sample population/course/instructional method/lens.
  • Time: Choose a research topic you can work on for a set period of time. For example, this semester (3-4 months) is the length of time to set up a small-scale study, complete the ethics review, recruit a sample population, and start on a draft of a journal article. Always plan enough time to go through the empirical literature as you prepare the investigation and draft the paper.
  • Approach: There are different approaches possible for each research topic. Scholarly papers can analyze or explain a concept, narrate events, design, or developments in the field, or even argue for or against theory or idea. Additionally, you might choose to focus on a philosophical, historical, sociological, psychological, scientific, etc. approach.
  • Perspective:  Research topics can be examined through a variety of scholarly perspectives. Each research perspective or lens requires different sources of information so it is important to establish what aspect of the topic interests you most from the start.
  • Clarity: Be clear about the topic you are researching. Your research topic might need some adjustment as you gather information; however, you should always have a well-defined focus for your topic of search to ensure you stay on track and avoid wasting time with your literature search.

Step 2. Find Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Evidence

Once this RESEARCH TOPIC is identified, next step is the literature review. This is critical part of research helps you to identify scholarly publications with evidence and investigation processes for your topic. Hart (1998) believes the literature review is an evaluative process is to determine how this empirical publications to answer the  following QUESTIONS for your scholarly search:

  • What are the key sources?
  • What are the major issues and debates around the topic?
  • What are the key theories, concepts, and ideas?
  • What are the epistemological and ontological grounds fro the discipline?
  • What are the political standpoints?
  • What are the origins of this topic?
  • What are the definitions involved with this topic?
  • How is knowledge on the topic structured and organized?
  • How have approaches to these questions increase our understanding and knowledge?

Step 3. Limit and Refine the Empirical Search

To help you keep your focus and direction for the literature search, it is critical to have a definitive argument/focus for your study. To best evaluate the scholarly works, Belcher (2009) offers suggestions to refine your literature review by reading materials that contribute to the central argument of your manuscript and limiting the following items for your search:

  • Set a time limit:  i.e. read nothing written over 10 years ago, five, or two (depending on your topic of research)
  • Language: limit to articles in English (or designated languages/preferences)
  • Questionable publishing outlets e.g. trade journals, non-peer reviewed, some conference proceedings not always suitable
  • Different geographical areas (by author country of origin)
  • Different time periods (related to your genre — this might apply to humanities more)
  • Different kinds of experiments (by your methods of study/research)
  • Different kinds of participants (by research sample type, size, etc)
  • Different variables (e.g. gender, age, etc.)
  • Without your keywords in the title or abstract – focus your search for these items
  • Non-electronic formats – if you can’t access the research from home/library resources

Step 4. Establish a System to Organize the Research Collection

Be sure to keep track of papers collected into a system of review. This might involve storing files, taking notes/annotations, and organizing articles into a citation system. I suggest setting this up early in your research life and I would definitely encourage you to use citation management software to track, store, and annotate articles you find for your literature search. Here are two platforms I use to tame the citations and literature collections [Learn more about citation management via the Research in Action podcast, episode no. 36]:

  1. Mendeley is a combination of a desktop application and a website which helps you manage, share and discover both content and contacts in research. You can store, save, annotate, and share documents with scholarly collaborators, plus manage and sync your references with a team in a group, or for yourself. You can easily drop in PDFs into the system to tag, cite, highlight, and organize your literature review. This is an excellent tool for team research and writing projects working from a distance.
  2. Zotero is utilized by a number of scholars as it is “an easy use tool easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.” Zotero hosts research groups and individuals who want to connect and collaborate with other scholars OR discover the works of others. It contains several disciplines through which a user can keep updated on and search for people to connect with. It is free to sign up and you download it to your computer.

Step 5. Search, Track, and Locate Relevant Papers

Find a way to organize and keep track of what you are searching (terms, keywords, filters, search strings, etc.) and where you might be finding these resources. Depending on your institution or access, you might not have a way to find ALL THE LITERATURE. Here are a few ways to expand your literature expedition and get access to empirical papers beyond your reach:

  • Search, Track and Set Alerts: Record the different search strings to recall what you find and perhaps to set up an alert (e.g. in Scopus, Summons, Google Scholar, etc.) that is relevant for this research topic or methodology. Here’s a screenshot of a Google spreadsheet for search for one of my projects: Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 1.15.32 PM
  • Google Scholar search the “Cited by ###” section of the site: this is to identify other relevant paper on topic or learn more about this research thread, i.e. a discovery search for missing literature. This will also bring about the “grey” research that is not indexed or part of a database search.
  •  Use Backward & forward referencing search method: for collecting and reviewing publications to be inclusive of empirical literature. This might bring about relevant publications to be included in your own review and give insights to your topic OR the research methodology.
  • Search for Publications Beyond Reach: Articles that you are not able to access at your institutional library or databases I have access to, I will tweet #iCanHazPDF [in action #icanhazpdf] to ask my professional network on Twitter OR even connect to the author (by email, social network, etc.) to ask for a pre-print copy. Beyond this you can find articles via other academic search engines with access, such as Sci-Hub, Semantic Scholar, and many more research databases.

Step 6. Process and Understand the Literature Gathered

Beyond these methods for storing papers, think about how you will process and organize your literature collection. You might have notes drafted as you review to identify themes, issues, and concepts you want to include for your own paper. Here are few tips/tricks I’ve honed as I search for literature:

  • Take Fewer Notes: Tag articles in the software,  group articles into specific folders, skim abstracts to code/organize, and identify literature for easy recall and use later. Have a system for your own tags or references to recall/use later when writing. Make meaningful labels that connect to your specific research focus/scope.
  • Create an Annotated Bibliography: For smaller literature searches (or team support efforts) start a reference list of your citations in APA 6th Edition format with a brief line or two making about the study, methods, findings + personal thoughts on articles/methods you read for each citation. Create annotations on this reference list, these are notes, on why this paper is relevant and could be helpful for your own research.
  • Concept Mapping the Literature: It might help you to create a visual or graphic organizer to map out these ideas and piece items together for your own manuscript. This might be digital or even analog — break out the markers, crayons, post-its and more! Check out the great suggestions Pat Thomson offers on “spaces between the literature” for reviewing research; a.k.a. bushwhacking
  • Don’t Wait to Write: From the annotations and notes you have made on the collected papers, start organizing how and where they might fit into your article draft. These preliminary notes might be rough; however, if you pop some of your literature into an outline of a paper this will help you write a draft of an article when you have your data collected and analyzed.

What other advice do you have for getting started on a new research project? What suggestions do you have for searching and organizing a literature review? Let me know — I’m always keen to get a few new ideas for scholarship and practice. Thanks!

References:

Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. Sage.

 

#AcWri, BreakDrink, Higher Education, Research, StudentAffairs

Publication Lessons Learned as an Early Career Scholar [@BreakDrink Episode no. 11]

As a follow-up to @BreakDrink Episode no. 9 and no. 8, Jeff and I continue to discuss the lessons we have learned in our early days of scholarship. HINT: We are still (and always) learning about the #acwri process. You can listen to some of our publishing ponderings on @BreakDrink episode no. 11: So You Want To Publish? On Academic Writing [Full Show Notes] and listen via SoundCloud here:

Much of what we’re discussing, is really just us processing ideas for a potential conference session and/or toolkit to get other higher education professionals involved in scholarly work. That is, front-line practitioners who directly work with and support learners. Typically these are professional staff who are involved in practice and rarely jump into the realm of scholarly writing and academic publishing — where we NEED to showcase and share evidence-based practices from the field. In talking and working with various scholar-practitioners, I have learned so much about how graduate prep programs vary in student affairs/services and/or higher education programs. Many of these applied education experiences are leaving higher education practitioners with minimal academic research knowledge and limited scholarly writing opportunities. In turn, the programs and practices implemented in post-secondary education, often leave out a research design, data analysis, and production towards an academic manuscript.

It is a critical time in post-secondary education where we MUST SHOW EVIDENCE and we SHOULD be contributing to the canon of student support services and student affairs scholarship. Higher ed professionals should be contributing to the empirical trail of our applied work beyond traditional teaching and learning — so it’s time #ShutUpAndWrite to PUBLISH!

We are just scratching the surface in this podcasts, as we being to think about developmental support for engaging practitioners and professionals in higher ed with the #AcWri process.  After listening to the out-loud ponderings on this podcast, here are a few lessons learned from our own early career research experiences with academic writing/publishing:

  • Create products for publication. Always. We need to have graduate students, master’s and doctoral-level, to think about crafting their academic writing for a publication and not just a paper or assignment. Consider WHERE and HOW you would use each writing piece for publications. You should not just have artifacts from courses submitted for a grade. Consider how you will use each piece of your coursework or research for a potential academic publication as well.
  • Get experience with peer-review: Practice of reviewing for peer-review and/or editing to be part of the academic publication process. Academic writing and publishing is a PROCESS. Each paper submitted goes through a particular workflow and are (most often) managed by volunteers and scholars who will review your work. Reviewing manuscripts, copy-editing, and evening managing a journal takes TIME – but it does help you learn what to expect for the stages of submitting an article. If you have not completed any peer review for an academic journal, you should! Learning about the expectations and experiences from the backend of a journal will give you more insights to where manuscripts go when submitted for publication.
  • Share the writing, peer review, and publishing process: The process of comments from editors, rejections from journals, and response to publications needs to be talked about among scholars & practitioners. Let’s normalize the process and share the experience.
  • Search for your manuscript FIT! Scopus is the mega database of abstracts and citations of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. Search and download “Scopus List” a spreadsheet for specific details for each journal. Where could your paper fit in? Could you take another lens or approach to fit the journal scope? Assess the fit of this BEFORE you submit!
  • Avoid desk rejects: This is when an editor rejects your manuscript and (hopefully) offers you feedback on the scope and/or fit for your paper within a few days of the week of submission. This avoids your manuscript sitting through the lengthy peer-review process for no reason. Why not reach out to the editor in advance with your paper abstract to inquire more about the fit/scope and if your manuscript is appropriate for submission first? This is also a great way to learn about what the peer-reviewers will be identifying and develop your professional connections.
  • Not all papers need to be in prestigious journals: Consider submitting to B-level journals and having a few targets for your paper that might fit if it is rejected – so you can take feedback to update and/or turn around to submit somewhere else. There is NO shortage of academic outlets for publications. Consider asking academic mentors or scholars in your specific area of expertise/discipline what other suitable journals might be a good target. Have a few journal outlets in mind to resubmit if rejected.
  • Love Your Librarian: Ask your librarians for support with your research on topics, to journal outlets, databases to search for empirical literature,  and/or where/how to archive your own publications (or say set up your own journal). Academic librarians have an understanding of where to look for publishing outlets with suggestions of database searches and recommendations for various disciplines of study.
  • Support and consider how you involve practitioners in scholarship — AND vice versa! Here are a few thoughts I shared about working with scholar-practitioners. Mentioned on @BreakdRink episode no. 8 and blogged by Laura. OR if you are a practitioner in education reach out to an academic to share about your potential sample population, research design, or general idea of study you want to be involved with for further inquiry.

If you have some resources and ideas on the topic of academic publishing — let us know! We would love for you to post a comment below, or connect with us via any of the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome feedback, comments, suggestions, and/or sass in any of the above digital spaces. If the podcast via iTunes (Apple Podcasts), please consider leaving us a rating and review. Cheers!

#AcWri, BreakDrink, Conference, Podcast, publication, Research

The Scholar-Practitioner Paradox for Academic Writing [@BreakDrink Episode No. 8]

I have been thinking about the needs and challenges higher education and student affairs professionals have with regards to evidence-based practices. In higher education, there is no shortage of topics and ideas to explore. I have been fortunate to collaborate with both scholars and practitioners in education to study a number of issues, including scaled-open learning, digital learning strategies, social media policies/guidance, mentoring programs, and networked experiences, just to name a few.  Beyond this short list, there are a number of practitioners who have reached out and we’re in the process of establishing research plans for professional development, mapping competencies to training, and leveraging technology in networked communities. My work partnering and collaborating with scholar-practitioner better informs my research methods and in explaining the findings/implications.

Scholar-practitioners generate new knowledge to improve practice, yet how they prioritize and go about their work varies with where they are on this scholar-practitioner continuum (Wasserman & Kram, 2009). The challenge with this work is there is VERY LITTLE TIME professionals in higher ed have to do scholarly work. When you are working in an educational service role for a 12-month contract, it is a challenge to move through the research process. Wasserman and Kram (2009) observed how competencies, needs, and values align with the competing roles of the scholar-practitioner to match either the work or research interests. Scholarly habits and the writing process requires deep concentration and focus on thinking critically to endure through a research project — from the study design, methodological planning, recruitment of participants, to publication and dissemination of findings.

Although higher education administrators and staff are in the best position to analyze programs, student populations, and services — there is not enough scholarship produced from professionals IN the field.

In their book, A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs, I think Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 6-8) touch on a few reasons why practitioners do not often contribute to academic writing and publications:

  • Not enough reading – that is, not as knowledgeable of current research in (and out of) the field, theories, and evidence-based practices from academic outlets
  • Not expected of positions and not valued – undervalued and underutilized research skills; some of these skills may have been minimal based on training, education, experience, etc. as it is not required in administrative positions
  • Second-class citizen syndrome – some might not have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or if they do, little academic scholarship has been completed beyond their dissertation work; also feel on a different level of the faculty at their institution (and often treated that way).
  • Inadequate academic preparation – research, evaluation and assessment training from each graduate program varies and many question skills and competency for research and publishing
  • Silos on campus – little interaction between departments, divisions, functions, and academic departments exist although we are trying to support the whole student.
  • Lack of motivation – when was the last time you saw “scholarship and research” in a practitioner’s job description or expectation to participate in scholarly conferences and publishing?

 

Many of the above items, I think, are describing student service/affairs professionals in the United States — as I have a number of higher ed colleagues who are required to produce research in their staff role. There is no shortage of op-ed pieces often shared among higher education social networks, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. The issue is we rarely see published conference proceedings, journal articles, or academic outlets producing PEER-REVIEWED pieces from and about practice contributing evidence and understanding from the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with Jeff Jackson (via our @BreakDrink podcast) about this challenge and what we are witnessing among practitioner peers. The first installment “on academic writing and scholarship” Jeff and I dig into academic writing/scholarship for BreakDrink Episode No. 8, where we discuss the differences of Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences. From the book by Hatfield and Wise (2015), chapter three talks about presenting at professional conferences; however, none of the associations shared offer any published conference proceeding for presentations shared and are not the same as submitting a paper or academic poster for another association that is more scholarly in nature. I think Hatfield and Wise (205) offer a decent introduction to scholarly writing for the novice student affairs professional  — but I think it is lacking in a few areas (as detailed in the podcast and notes below). If you are interested, feel free to read this book review (Delgado & McGill, 2016) and listen to our thoughts via the podcast here:

@BreakDrink Episode No. 8 – Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences [SHOW NOTES]:

Episode No. 8,  might be part 1 of a few series on this topic about “being an academic” or “scholarly work.” Jeff and I have recorded a few meanderings as we think/share on this topic. If you have questions or want to know more about the following items, let us know: mentoring for #AcWri, how to put together a manuscript, proposing a conference paper, data management, or starting a peer-review journal OR being part of an editorial board. Let us know! 

Conferences Run Down in 2017: Scholar vs. Academic Conference

American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts a research/scholarly conference annually and this year #aera17 conference was in San Antonio, TX with Jeff in attendance. This professional association is HUGE, but thankfully it is broken down into Divisions and  Special Interest Groups (a.k.a. SIGs). Division I is Jeff’s Jam: Education in the Professions as he also attends the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and perhaps Division J may be where some of the doctoral/graduate scholars hang out. Related to this association you will find THE journal, Educational Researcher, that is well-regarded by scholars; however AERA also has AERA Open and other publication outlets.

We just wish we saw more of this at practitioner conferences. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) also held their annual conference at the same convention center in San Antonio, TX back in March. Both Jeff and I were there, and we attended a session on publishing in the NASPA journals from this association [Sadly the new Technology in Higher Education: Emerging Practice was not represented in this session this year.] It’s not as though sessions at Student Affairs or Practitioner conferences do have a poster session, and I have seen “Research Papers” presented at ACPA Convention and NACADA has offered Research Symposiums at regional conferences.  The conferences mentioned in Chapter 3 of Hatfield and Wise’s (2015) book: ACPA, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, NODA, & NIRSA

Academic Conferences We Have Also Attended to Note:

 

Conference Proceedings 101

Conference proceedings are scholarly papers a number of academics/researchers include on their vitae for the tenure and promotion. This is the “carrot” as to why faculty or scholars would attend a conference and allow doctoral researchers grants to travel, beyond the value of networking and discussions with peers. A proceeding could be a short (or long) paper presented at a conference, and sometimes there are even print proceedings published for your conference abstracts/papers (e.g. #SMsociety15 proceedings). All papers typically have a specific format (e.g. AECT’s manuscript requirements) and are submitted for a formal (typically blinded) peer-review process before they are accepted. Typically these are shorter papers or a conference abstract (not a beginning of a journal article abstract format), where you present your completed research projects. A number of social sciences and education conferences have specific formats beyond the APA Style 6th Edition, but that is a good start. If accepted, you will typically present your paper at the conference in a condensed format, such as 10-25 minutes, with a set of other papers in a single session. Each presentation is directed to showcase research by describing a brief literature overview, research methods (data collection, analysis) and findings/implications. This might be moderated by a discussant, moderator, or not at all with a brief (2-5 minutes) for Q&A at the end of your presentation/session time slot.

Other formats typically at scholarly conferences we have seen — but this is not an inclusive list:

  • Conference abstract (1000-2500 words) – how to guide and killer abstract writing
  • Full Papers (up to 8000-10.000 words)
  • Notes  or Work/Research In Progress
  • Poster Sessions (also via a device, e.g. laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • Workshops/Hands-on Sessions (e.g. how to use R-Studio for text mining)
  • Competitions or Expos — challenge/solution program feature to showcase work
  • Plenary/Keynotes
  • Doctoral Colloquium
  • Mentoring Programs

Episode F.A.Q.

  • Q: Is it considered a self-plagiarism to reuse (published) abstracts for talks? A: Yes. You want to avoid text recycling and should NOT but publishing the same work to different publication outlets.
  • Q: Is presenting about my program or an assessment of an initiative at my campus research? Does this count? A: Maybe. Did you get IRB approval from your institution before collecting data? Are you following the scholarly practice of your educational/social science peers? If not — this might be an assessment. Still great — but it could not be submitted as peer-reviewed conference proceeding or journal article.
  • Q: What is this Yellowbook that Jeff referred to during the podcast? A: It was known as a “phone book” and it’s directory of names of people and businesses for you to locate their contact information. You might use the Google or another search engine these days for said things. Apparently, Yellowbook as rebranded to “yb” and now has a website: https://www.yellowpages.com/
  • Q: Why is Tony Parker out for the rest of the NBA season? A: He injured his quadriceps tendon on Wednesday, May 2nd. {tear!}
  • Q: What is Fiesta? A: A 10-day annual party celebrating culture, food, fun, and parades in San Antonio, TX that typically falls at the end of April. More about Fiesta. Best tagline: “A party with a purpose” https://www.fiesta-sa.org/

Our Pro-Tips for Attending Academic Conference:

  1. Prepare for the Conference: Review the conference website to see what research is being presented, who will be attending, and who you should meet (new & friends) while you are both at this event. Are you a fan girl/boy of a particular researcher and you want to chat about their work/your work? Are you hoping to collaborate with other scholars? Do your homework and figure out who will be there. Maybe you want to set up a meeting over a meal/coffee/drinks OR find a particular session where you can be introduced to new peers.
  2. Attend the First Time Attendee Session (if they have one): Get the lay of the conference land and get a good overview/guide to what is going on during the event. Is there a mixer with food and/or drinks? Attend and meet a few people. Prepare to be social and have your own “elevator pitch” about what you are currently studying or working on right now. Think about this before you show up to the conference.

Overall, we think higher education professionals could do better with sharing MORE research-based information at our conferences. Many of these sessions are often hidden within the general program sessions and/or found in a poster session — that is often not well-attended. Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 8) challenge practitioners to research by asking:

If you could give voice to those who were marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they will know what we contribute to student learning and development, why wouldn’t you?”

Why are we not encouraging more scholar-practitioner collaborations? And what incentives could you offer early career researchers and senior scholars to attend these conferences? These are ponderings we are thinking about from reading this book (Hatfield & Wise, 2015) on SA scholarship. We think it’s a decent starting guide to getting into academic writing. Sharing evidence-based initiatives are required to be relevant in higher education. This value needs to be showcased more by and with student affairs, student services, and those not on an academic track to offer others insight to the work we are doing.

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

 

If you have a thought or two, please share it with us via one of these channels. We’d love to hear from you on any one or all of following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome comments, questions, and more! If you happen to listen to Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

References:

Delgado, A., & McGill, C. M. (2016). A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise (review). Journal of College Student Development57(7), 898-900.

Hatfield, L. J., & Wise, V. L. (2015). A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Wasserman, I. C., & Kram, K. E. (2009). Enacting the scholar—practitioner role: An exploration of narrativesThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science45(1), 12-38.

#AcWri, #AcWriSummer

My Lessons Learned from #AcWriSummer 2016

Earlier this summer, I proposed to form a “writing posse” that would encourage support and accountability…and keep my own writing progress in check. Little did I know how important this would be! I am SO very grateful for my scholarly peers who accepted this team challenge, lCatherineCaroline & Patrice. These colleagues were also invested in working on a specific writing project, and they were all willing to join me on this 8-week experiment we’ve called #AcWriSummer 2016.

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We started using chapters of the book, Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, to guide our writing process; however, we ended up branching out to figure out what we could accomplish or support over the summer.  I sincerely thank these ladies for their willingness to contribute in our online weekly meetings, tweets for motivation/support, and general advice for editing of manuscripts and resources to develop our academic writing practice.

Here’s what I have learned from #AcWriSummer 2016:

  • Accountability for academic writing is good thing – regular, structured check-ins or checkpoints for the writing process as you draft a manuscript
  • Apparently, holidays take away from my writing habit (I stopped tracking my writing time/progress after Canada Day)
  • Creating a habit of writing is key – always schedule writing chunks early & often on your calendar (block out time)!
  • Laying the foundation of a manuscript helps your writing — outline your paper structure 
  • Focusing and targeting your manuscript for the publication outlet you want is critical! Wr
  • Drafting a solid abstract that will get read and cited — keep in mind this might be all other scholars read and use, so be explicit about your study & findings here
  • Research the empirical literature WELL!  (see resources below or read my #AcWriSummer Week 3 post)
  • What I write is not always what others read — be clear in your arguments and findings
  • Attack & conquer editing with peers to tighten drafts – Google docs are great for a 1st review of a draft
  • Consider what your writing process is and if it needs to be changed (or is it working)
  • Ask a colleague/peer for help if and when you get stuck on something in your writing
  • Solicit for ideas for elements of how to improve and enhance your manuscript from an outside perspective
  • Helpful reads and tips for writing
  • Collaborative team attacks for editing sections of a manuscript
  • Reminders incremental academic writing is still progress
  • Social experience with both peer learning and care – academic writing does not have to be a solo endeavor
  • Sharing of resources, reads, and tips to support writing (see below); however, you really need to figure out what will work best for YOU in your academic writing practice.

Interested in supporting your own #acwri practice? Here are a few great resources our #AcWriSummer group curated during the last couple of months:

Now that our “formal” #AcWriSummer 2016 curriculum is over, it is time to get these drafts finished.  I will need some #ShutUpAndWrite time before I can properly enjoy any holiday time that remains in August. At least I have my motivation for getting my #acrwisummer projects done. Happy writing, y’all!

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Image c/o PhD Comics