#AcWri, #AcWriSummer

#AcWriSummer Week 3: Arguments and Reviewing the Literature

It’s week 3 of writing and accountability. This week and next, we’ve bumped up our #AcWriSummer accountability group meeting to Tuesdays (6/21 and 6/21). With my #acwri co-conspirators — Patrice, CatherineCaroline, & Elvira —  are continuing to work through the Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks book. This week we focused on directing our manuscripts we are working on and consider how to read/reflect on the relevant literature. Here are some highlights for what we will be discussing this week:

 Advancing Your Argument (Week 3)

This chapter details a number of reasons why articles are rejected, specifically around an article argument being too narrow, too broad, off topic, too defensive, not sufficiently original, poor structure, not significant, theoretically or methodologically flawed, and too many misspellings and/or grammatical errors. It is important to review the direction of your paper as you prepare your manuscript for journal publication. Belcher (2009) encourages readers to identify if the current manuscript has problems and to consider how to revise the following issues:

  • Focus: contextualization, audience aim, proper length, and giving pertinent examples related to the argument;
  • Topic appropriate for journal selected: subject matter, methods, scope, etc. ;
  • Scholarliness: meticulous about documentation, reference multiple sources, cite recent and relevant literature, reference debates in the field, use discipline-related expertise, provide a critical framework and evidence;
  • Defensiveness: avoid extensive quotations, excessive documenting, monotonous accounts of others work, jargon, and dogmatism;
  • Originality: read literature in your field, focus on what’s new, argue what is, claim your ideas, and develop a voice for your research;
  • Structure: Present your structure clearly, stick to your point, delete the redundant or irrelevant, link article evidence to support argument, and state findings at the beginning of the article;
  • Problems with Significance: did you articulate how this research fills a gap or adds to the topic, and did you target this manuscript for the appropriate journal;
  • Theory or Method Issues: have your work peer reviewed for feedback, detail and describe your methods, avoid imbalance in writing, and review the analysis of your data or interpretations
  • Spelling and Grammar: improve your paper for these issues, run a spelling and grammar check, ask a peer for review before submission, get help in a writing group, hire an editor, and follow the submission’s guidelines for author.

Homework: Find an Article (or a few) to Model Your Article’s Argument
Find “model” articles for your manuscript that might be:

  • part of your literature review search
  • from the target journal(s) you selected (from Week 4)
  • outside your discipline or topic area
  • the way you will structure the presentation of your article’s argument

BONUS WORK: Abstract Revisions: Abstract examples on pp. 86-87 will help you in revising of your  abstract; consider how you to present  entire topic and findings in short form.

Reviewing the Related Literature (Week 5)

This chapter shared strategies for reading literature directed towards your articles focus. I like how it suggested setting up your electronic software or platforms first. This is critical — here are a few I have used or currently use myself with a quick “about” the platform:

references_phdcomics

I really appreciated Belcher’s (2009) suggestions on refining and targeting the literature review by reading materials that specifically contribute to the central argument of your manuscript. Here are a few categories to limit how you collect relevant literature:

  • Set a time limit:  i.e. read nothing written over 10 years ago or five or two depending on your field of scholarship/topic of research
  • Language: read articles in English or designated other languages
  • Questionable or not recommended publishing outlets e.g. trade journals, non-peer reviewed, some conference proceedings not always suitable (find a journal publication)
  • Journal outside your discipline (if not interdisciplinary work)
  • Certain kinds of authors (established vs. early career?)
  • 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

Homework: Share How You Review Literature
-Explain methods of how you search, find, read, review, and select your literature
-Outline strategies for effective ways to approach this part of the research process

Here are a few of my suggestions and approaches for how I read & review literature:

  • Make reading/review social – find others to collaborate and add them into your Mendeley (or another software program) group to add and review publications
  • Scopus Search (ALL.THE.PUBS) and Track: I record the different search strings, track what I find, and set an alert to receive any updates — this is relevant in my field as technology, methods, and research continue to build. Here’s a screenshot of one of recent Google spreadsheets for search with a colleague: Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 1.15.32 PM
  • Search for Publications Beyond Reach: articles I don’t have access to in my own library databases I tweet #iCanHazPDF [in action #icanhazpdf], ask a friend on Twitter, or email the author
  • 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
  • Don’t wait to write: Create annotations about publications as you would write it
  • Create an annotated bib for focused/small literature collections: include the APA 6th edition citation + a quick line or two making note about the study, methods, findings + personal thoughts on articles/methods
  • 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
  •  Use Backward & forward referencing search method: for collecting and reviewing publications to be inclusive of empirical literature
  • Concept mapping the Literature: Check out the great post from Pat Thomson on “spaces between the literature” for reviewing research; a.k.a. bushwhacking
  • Key Searching Suggestions from Doing a Literature Review (Hart, 1998) was blogged about in my Book Review post.

Here’s our continued #AcWriSummer 2016 Plan schedule for the remaining 5 weeks:

  • 27th June WEEK 4: Chapter 6:  Strengthen structure =>Article outline (Meeting Tuesday, June 28th)
  • 4th July WEEK 5: Chapter 7 & 8:Presenting evidence & Opening/Concluding =>Draft article (Meeting Friday, July 8th)
  • 11th July WEEK 6: Chapter 9 & 10: Give/get/use feedback & Edit sentences => Give feedback on manuscripts (Meeting Friday, July 15th)
  • 18th July WEEK 7: Chap 11 & 12 (Wrapping up & Sending article!) => Final article (Meeting Friday, July 22nd)
  • 25th July WEEK 8: X & Other (Meeting Friday, July 29th)

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, #AcWriMo, #AcWriSummer

#AcWriSummer: Week 2 – Abstract Writing & Selecting a Journal

Last week, I shared how we were setting up an #AcWriSummer accountability group. Well, it happened. Thanks to Patrice, Catherine, & Caroline who are joining me on this 8-week #AcWri adventure as we go through the workbook created by Wendy Laura Belcher: Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. Also, much thanks to Wendy, who shared her syllabi, as we work through our “short course” this summer. Here’s what our #AcWriSummer 2016 Plan looks like for the next few weeks:

  • 6th June WEEK 1: Chapter 1: Designing your plan for writing => Ideas for article; barriers; planning this short course
  • 13th June WEEK 2: Chapter 2 & 4: Abstract writing & Selecting a Journal
  • 20th June WEEK 3: Chapter 5: Reviewing the literature => (Reflections on) Lit review
  • 27th June WEEK 4: Chapter 3 & 6: Advancing argument & Strengthen structure => Article outline
  • 4th July WEEK 5: Chapter 7 & 8:Presenting evidence & Opening/Concluding => Draft article
  • 11th July WEEK 6: Chapter 9 & 10: Give/get/use feedback & Edit sentences => Give feedback on manuscripts
  • 18th July WEEK 7: Chap 11 & 12 (Wrapping up & Sending article!) => Final article
  • 25th July WEEK 8: X & Other (wrap up)

journal-1428424_1280

Items we’ll be working on this week are from Chapter (or Week) 2 and 4, which includes creating an abstract and reviewing potential journal publication outlets. We will be discussing these items on Friday (6/17) morning from 9-10 am CT (see more details about our online, synchronous meetings at the end of this post).

Week 2: Starting Your Article: The Abstract

“One of the best ways to get started on a revision of your journal article is to write and abstract – something that describes your article’s topics and argument” (Belcher, 2009, p. 54).

Why is writing an abstract so important?

  • Solving problems – can you clarify your own writing for what your manuscript is about? If not you might need more focus.
  • Connecting with editors (potential journal outlets) – are you able to explain your manuscript to a potential editor to determine fit with a journal?
  • Getting found – Can you explain and outline your research so it is easily found by other scholars? Think beyond title – abstract, keywords, etc.
  • Getting read – Can you introduce your article well enough that scholars will download and read your full article?
  • Getting cited – Would scholars be able to cite you on reading only your abstract? Do you share what the research is about in a succinct way?

The ‘Ingredients of a Good Abstract: Social Science” as suggested by Belcher (2009, p. 55) would answer the following questions:

  • Why did you start this research/project? (gap in literature, debate, or social issue?)
  • What is the project/research about? (topic of the article)
  • How did you conduct the research? (methodology)
  • What are your findings?  
  • What conclusions are formed from the study? (your argument)
  • What are your recommendations? (optional)

Chapter 4: Selecting a Journal: Searching & Evaluating

We bumped up Chapter (Week) 4 to this week, as we think it is important to also have an idea of how to formulate your manuscript based on the publication outlet you are aiming for. In this section of the workbook, Belcher offers a number of questions and resources to consider when searching and evaluating journal outlets.

If you have not already spoken to your advisor, colleagues, or peers about potential journal outlets in your discipline or for your research — you should! NOW! We will be discussing our target journals we have searched and evaluated during this week’s #AcWriSummer meeting. Other suggestions from Belcher (2009) include an old-fashioned shelf/online search, reviewing your citations to see where this research was published, identifying where your discipline publishes through your professional/academic associations and searching journal/electronic databases.

Here are a few search resources for finding journal outlets for publishing:

Let us know if you have other suggestions for searching for journals that you like or use – thanks!

Evaluating Academic Journals

Belcher (2009) offers questions to ask as you review these journal options for your own manuscript. I might suggest keeping the above journal and/or database information available AND be sure to DOWNLOAD the Scopus List [in Excel format] as it will also answer these questions when reviewing potential journals:

    • Is the journal peer reviewed?
    • Is the journal in the recommend publishing outlet category?
    • Does the journal have a solid reputation?
    • Does the journal have a reputable publisher?
    • Has the journal been around for a while?
    • Is the journal carefully produced?
    • Does the journal come out on time?
    • Are the authors published in its pages diverse?
    • Does the journal publish more than 5 or 6 articles a year?
    • Is the journal online or indexed electronically and where?
    • Does it take a long time to get published once you submit your manuscript?
    • Is the journal going through a transition?
    • Who reads the journal?
    • Does the journal have an upcoming theme or special issue on your topic?
    • Does the journal have word or page length limits you can meet?
    • Does the style of your article match the journal’s style?
    • Do you know any of the journal’s editors?
    • How does the journal require articles be submitted?

It was great to learn that Wendy is currently updating her book to include the importance of READING relevant journal articles. In listening to the 1st Episode of Research in Action, Wendy shared how more writers should be reading relevant journals. This is true. If you are not reading at least one article a week (or more), then you are not supporting your academic writing craft. Reading relevant journal articles, specifically those in a journal where you would like to target your manuscript allow you to target your paper by:

  • Citing related articles from the journal you select
  • Finding a model article to outline your manuscript to follow preferred style/format
  • Reading and knowing the direction, focus, scope, etc. of the journal
  • Determining articles published in the journal relevant to your topic, methods, etc.
  • Identifying the length of the articles and the number of references
  • Outlining key components in accepted articles published in that journal outlet 

This is not ALL there is in these workbook chapters for Week’s 2 and 4; however I thought a few of these resources might be helpful if you need to prepare your own abstract and you invested in locating the appropriate academic journal outlet for your manuscript.

Interested in Joining Us for our #AcWriSummer 2016 short course? Here are a few things to get involved in our academic writing group:

  1.  COMMIT to the #acwri process EVERY WEEK. This means following the workbook curriculum, check in during our weekly meetings, and following through with goals and objectives set each week for your writing process.
  2. SHARE YOUR PROGRESS via the #AcWriSummer 2016 Accountability Spreadsheet
  3. MEET EACH FRIDAY  (in June and July) from 9-10 am CT via the GoToMeeting link to “check in” and work through the chapter(s) each week.

Reference:

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

#AcWri

#AcWriSummer for #AcWri Accountability Summer 2016

I’ve heard the mantra “publish or perish” in academia from a number of scholars, but what we don’t talk about is the true comradery of academic research and writing. I have been fortunate to be part of a few collaborative research and writing groups and pairs (Shout out to: The Center for Knowledge Solutions, my work with Dr. Nick, The Digital Learning & Social Media Research Group, #edusocmedia research team, the Mentoring Research Team, and the UNT Faculty Writing Group). I am proud to say that research and writing need not be a solo process.  This I know to be true.

In reading the @ProfHacker blog post, Academic Through Accountability, I was prompted to think about my own summer research and writing projects ahead. One quote stood out the most: “Finding the motivation to persevere through lengthy tasks with no end or reward in sight is a major part of being an academic.” The analogy of running and training alongside others for the long haul struck a chord with me. As a marathon runner, and one dedicated to long-term “training” for other sports — I am ready to part of another team to account for my writing habit and keep my #acwri practice productive this summer. And… I learned I am not alone.

Over the next couple of months, Patrice (a.k.a. @ProfPatrice) and I have committed to being #acwri writing partners-in-crime. In doing so we are going to work through the Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, by Wendy Laura Belcher, in maybe 10 weeks this summer. Thanks to the UNT Writing Faculty Group for this resource, the time I have this summer to work through this book over the summer, and to Patrice for joining me in this #acwri journey process. 12 weeks If you want to join us on this #AcWriSummer journey (there’s a few of us using this hashtag on Twitter),  you can get your own book or read my weekly blog posts, and join our #acwri summer productivity group. There are only two rules:

  1. You have to COMMIT to the #acwri process EVERY WEEK. This means following the chapter curriculum (I’ll try to post the chapter themes on a Monday/Tuesday of each week), check in during our weekly meetings, and following through with goals and objectives set each week for your writing process.
  2. Be sure to #SaveTheDate and JOIN US each Friday (in June and July) from 9-10 am CT via the GoToMeeting link to “check in” to discuss your #AcWri progress:

#AcWri Summer Accountability Group 2016

Join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/648338213

You can also dial in using your phone: United States +1 (408) 650-3123; Access Code: 648-338-213

Week 1: Designing Your Plan for Writing

  • Understanding your feelings about writing
  • Keys to positive writing experiences
  • Designing a plan for submitting your article in twelve weeks (or less)
  • Selecting a paper or projects for revision/writing
  • Choosing Your Writing Site
  • Organizing your writing Schedule
  • Anticipating and overturning writing obstacles

It’s time to clean off that #AcWri white board of mine and put a few goals up… more to be updated soon! See y’all on Friday (6/10) at 9 am CT if you want to join the fun. Blogging, Instagramming, or tweeting about your academic writing progress? Feel free to use #AcWriSummer to share your updates. Write on!

Reference:

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

#AcWri, #AcWriMo, Dissertation

#AcWriMo In Review: My Output

Many things come to an end as the month of November closes. See you later Thanksgiving, Fall 2013 semester, #Movember, and Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo). (Actually – it’s more of a see you soon, really.) Officially, the month of November is dedicated to #AcWriMo; however a number of graduate students (including yours truly) used this past month to complete a good chunk of their dissertation to loose this moniker:

Why my weekends are filled with literature reviews, data collection & #acwri sessions... #acwrimo

Review of My November #AcWriMo Goals… and my Lessons Learned:

  1. Complete my doctoral dissertation proposal so that it is ready to DEFEND to my committee.  Almost there. I did get a good chunk of writing accomplished at the UNT Dissertation Boot Camp – so this helped #acwrimo my progress. Although drafted, my dissertation proposal is not ready to defend yet. In working on a new application for methodology for social science, I want to meet with a couple faculty members on campus to hash out specifics and needs for Chapter 3 (Methodology) and test some of this during the month of December. It looks like a January 2014 date is more realistic for my dissertation proposal defense. I’m okay with this – because once this proposal is approved then Chapters 1, 2, and 3 for my dissertation are DONE!

Lesson Learned: Dedicate the time for the dissertation. As a doctoral candidate you need to be selfish with your writing time. Since this is large project, you need to chunk out your research and writing time that is supported by realistic short- and long-term goals.

  1. Finish “Technology in Advising for Higher Education” manuscript to submit to the NACADA Journal. Since I started #AcWriMo a day later, I used December 1st to work on the #AdvTech research findings and drafting of this manuscript. I am not sure why this project was put on a back burner, but I definitely need to move forward and submit this in December 2013 for Spring 2014 publication eligibility. This goal is not complete, but I will plan on sharing it with my co-authors before the week is out so we can submit to the journal editors for review.

Lesson Learned: Finish your #acwri projects before taking others on. Sure the promise of more research and writing might be enticing, but how productive will you be on your own or with a collaborative writing team if you are not finishing your manuscripts and publishing them? Always be submitting.

  1. #iConf14 Social Media Expo – paper & video for conference. After a lunch brainstorm session with Andrew Miller (@findandrew) and @FiachraM last week, I found the momentum to draft the abstract for the #iConf14 proposal.  Although not submitted (just yet), the abstract is being wrapped up and edited this evening. The final video will be compiled tomorrow evening; however our team Dropbox is filled with photos and images, with Andrew to capture video tomorrow.

Lesson Learned: Innovative ideas come from interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving. Research that is participatory and collaborative drives my writing and efforts. Also, when you experience #acwri well with other scholars, be sure to include these researchers as conspirators for your common research interests and projects.

  1. Complete a minimum of 2 blog posts per week – on writing progress and projects. Done. Whether I was reading, researching, or writing – I was able to share what I was working on with my blog readers, and provide on-going updates about my #acwrimo progress.

Lesson Learned: Stating goals out loud and adding social pressure is great, but reflection and sharing always helps me to process ideas more. Although my “official” month of #acwrimo accountability is over, I am fortunate to have my blog to share and write about my research progress, dissertation progress, teaching methods, and more.

Overall…

This month of academic writing has been very productive for me. In looking at my contribution to the #AcWriMo Accountability in the Spreadsheet o’ Fun you can see I logged at least 35, 097 words, and have been dedicated to the daily habit of writing. It is not so much the word count, but really the completed projects, which are finished and not taking up real estate in my research/writing space. I am taking the #acwrimo lessons learned with me by continuing this #acwrimo habit in December by setting specific project goals, carving out dedicated writing time, and reflecting my progress via my blog.

How did #AcWriMo in November go for you? What have you learned from this academic writing month? Post a comment to share, or respond to this #AcWriMo Questionnaire (not mine).

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

My #AcWriMo Goals for November

acwrimo1-01

Happy Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)! November IS #AcWriMo… however as a student every month is #acwrimo… BUT in an effort move forward on a few writing deadlines and projects I thought this accountability would change my typical “creative process.”

The Creative Process

#AcWriMo main features include:

  • Setting academic writing goals
  • Writing down said goals & tracking (see the AcWriMo 2013 Writing Accountability Spreadsheet) collectively
  • Strategy sharing for #AcWri
  • Sharing my progress (will be weekly for me)
  • WRITE!!!! (most important)
  • Show results (see spreadsheet & future blog posts)

I have participated in this #acwrimo in the past, and I thought that this type of peer/social pressure was very productive. I liked the idea of declaring goals, being accountable and tracking my writing progress in chunks. I also think that this will be a very useful practice to step up my word count and complete writing projects that need to be completed.

My #AcWriMo Goals for November:

  1.  Complete my doctoral dissertation proposal so that it is ready to DEFEND to my committee.
  2. Finish Technology in Advising for Higher Education manuscript to submit to the NACADA Journal.
  3. #iConf14 Social Media Expo – paper & video for conference.
  4. Complete a minimum of 2 blog posts per week – on writing progress and projects.

Here is how I plan on achieving these goals:

  1. Write for a minimum of two 60 minute time blocks per day.
  2. Have a total of 750 words per day written.
  3. Logging my projects, words written, and more to the #acwrimo accountability spreadsheet.
  4. My Tweeps & other social networks can call me out and inquire at ANY time to see how I’m doing.

Are you going to JOIN IN THE #AcWriMo FUN? You should!

#AcWri

#AcWriMo & Accountability to Write

Continuing with my blog “catch up” from the Fall 2012 semester theme…

I thought I’d share my #AcWriMo statistics for the month of November. In conjunction with #NaNoWriMo and #DigiWriMo, there are an avid group of academic scholars and early career researchers who “checked in” virtually to post their #AcWri goals and daily progress in a shared Google document.

So I decided to join in for #acwrimo in November to tackle a few writing projects and goals I had to hit by the end of 2012. This digital check in helped me track what I was doing. My goal was at least 750 words per day, as I found the 750words tool useful and a reasonable daily goal. In the end, my total number of words for the month of November 2012 = 60, 088 words!

I’m not sure if anyone really paid attention to what I was updating in the shared Google Excel doc, but  using 750words.com and tracking my own word count in a public space did remind me that I was not alone in my #acwri and publishing goals. This #AcWriMo word count sharing helped me keep tabs on my progress, and I was able to focus my attention to small milestones I have had for the bigger writing tasks, i.e. grant research, conference paper proposals, manuscript submissions edits, etc.

If you’re impressed with my stats and you want to increase your word count these days, then perhaps  a digital #acwrimo accountability is for you! A growing number of scholars continue to share #acwri goals and word count writing objectives each month here: Academic Writing Accountability 2013 spreadsheet.  Forget New Years resolutions for #acwri intentions, and focus on some S.M.A.R.T. goals for your scholarly writing this year.