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

Search and Organize: The Literature Review #acwri #LTEC6040

 

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.

 

#LTEC6040, Online Learning, Research, SoTL

#LTEC6040 Asks, “Why Online?”

This academic semester I am fully immersed in online/digital scholarship of teaching and learning. This should not be a surprise, as I teach online and I’m often trying to figure out how distance/technology impacts learning. This year I am exploring HOW TO research digital teaching/learning practices in the courses I instruct and for the scholarship I’m drafting. According to Storify (soon to R.I.P. in May 2018), we’ve been talking about how to best define/label distributed learning for a while => here’s a Twitter thread captured from 3 years ago:  “State of ______ [insert: digital, online, etc.] Learning.” Under the umbrella term, distance education, comes a variety of ways to teach and learn. Additionally, the technological landscape in education has offered a number of ways to discuss, research, and design distributed learning. It’s complicated and challenging as the titles/labels for this type of teaching/learning hold many monikers in the empirical research: educational/learning technologies, networked learning, online education, blended learning environments, hybrid models, flipped learning, e-Learning, virtual environments, and more! Some technologies have the ability to design a flow of distributed learning that is seamless; whereas other digital facets create barriers and challenges.

Our learning spaces have a number of ways to infuse technology into distance education. With this comes even more ways to research and study these pedagogical practices for digital learning.  Regardless of the app, platform, or tool, we seem to have some aspect of “digital” infused into how we both teach and learn. As the options and variety of this online teaching/learning scholarship is broad, I am looking forward to supporting doctoral researchers who will identify one aspect of digital learning in our LTEC 6040: Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning (#LTEC6040 ) course. If you read this blog or connect with me on Twitter, you might see a few posts/shares using this hashtag to signal ideas and offer resources for these early career scholars as they work on investigating one piece of this distance/distributed learning pie.

The central focus of the #LTEC6040 course is to encourage doctoral researchers to define their own theory of online learning/teaching in context to:

  • Outlining empirical literature that supports (or refutes) their personal online learning/teaching theory
  • Identifying appropriate research methods to collect and analyze data connected to this personal online learning/teaching theory (small scale study)
  • Describing the ethical considerations and practices for this research study (e.g. IRB, recruitment, sample population, etc.)
  • Drafting an academic article manuscript for an appropriate publication outlet related to their field of inquiry in online teaching/learning

If you are so inclined, I would encourage you to join in the conversation and offer advice, resources,ideas, and readings for these scholars — as a number of you hold some invaluable expertise in a variety of areas we’ll be exploring for distributed learning this term [To see potential topics, see page 6 of the LTEC 6040 Course Syllabus]:

#LTEC6040 Blogs
https://jennie6040.blog/
https://nitiesite.wordpress.com/
https://jackimberly.wordpress.com/
https://crossingboundariesmedia.wordpress.com
https://osbornemarks.wordpress.com/
https://notlostnotyet.wordpress.com/
https://rickwoods2018.wordpress.com/
https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/

We are just beginning to define what it means to examine online instruction/learning and unpacking distributed educational environments. In the initial conversations and class blog posts, most are still working on how they DEFINE and OUTLINE what it means to learn/teach online from their own experiences and expectations from the theories they are learning about in our program. Distance education research in higher education is fairly “young” (in comparison to other disciplines) and I am grateful I am surrounded by some fantastic colleagues and their respective departments/units/centers/teams who continue to find value in sharing digital teaching/learning scholarship resources. Here are a just a few (of many) examples:

Beyond these databases, reports, and resources, I am curating other digital learning materials and discourse to prompt discussion, debate and inquiry. Please feel free to share articles, blog posts, media, and more that might be suitable for diving into online teaching/learning research. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below, if you have any. If you tweet, share what you think is critical for investigations in the digital age of learning using the course hashtag: #LTEC6040

Higher Education, Networked Community, networkedscholar, Reflections, Research

Thinking About My Networked Self & Digital Experiences In Higher Ed

This past summer, I spent a great deal of time talking to colleagues in higher ed to learn how they utilize social media to connect with peers and support one another in online communities. These interviews and conversations have been enlightening to help us understand more about how our digital, networked selves come to work on a university/college campus and contribute to our professional fields. For some, it is becoming increasingly vital to share instruction, scholarship, and practice online.  For others, there are still concerns about being connected to colleagues as our social networks now have context collapse. In the online world, what IS really private vs. public? Which networks are used for personal and/or professional practice?

Open and digital channels help higher ed faculty and stuff in a number of different ways: asking/giving advice, collaboration on projects, free professional development, sharing information/resources, colleagues solicit advice, personal/professional support, and opportunities to learn in digital communities with common interests. Besides developing a digital presence or a “persona” online, higher education staff, administrators and scholars are utilizing social media and digital technologies to support their work, add to their professional development, engage with peers, learn in the collective and publicly in digital spaces and places.

This leads me to ask these questions of my peers working in higher ed:

  • How does being part of a digital learning network support your professional learning and development?
  • How are you shaping your online identity and presence to share your professional values?
  • How can your networked communities expand your knowledge and learning to enhance your role on campus and the work you do?
  • Why might others consider finding networked peers and practitioners to scaffold their own career goals?

Although there are benefits to “working out loud” and online, there are also a number of issues as we repurpose social, digital spaces. The stakes are high, as an increasing number of higher ed professionals participate in online social networks with minimal institutional guidance for sociotechnical support or training (Pasquini & Evangelopoulos, 2017). Social and digital networks are connected, public and scaled — and often not on spaces we own or have control over. Additionally, much of our own data is being collected and reused on these networked platforms. This has me wondering:

  • How are higher ed staff and faculty evaluating their online participation on these social networks?
  • How has their contribution to open, public spaces shifted over the years?
  • What does being online as a higher ed professional look like now?

These are just a few of the questions we are asking in our research study. If you are interested in sharing more about your own experiences as a professional in higher ed, please consider contributing by participating in an interview (more about the study here).

Research Interview Sign Up: http://bit.ly/networkedself

Part of this blog post is cross-posted via my Inside Higher Ed Digital Learning opinion piece.

Podcast, Professional Development, Research

The Higher Ed Podcast Project

Podcasts. This mobile, audio medium has been circling the Internet since 2004. Podcasting has evolved so much since its birth. Over the last few years, there’s been a growth of fantastic of podcasts to listen to and enjoy. If you have not heard someone talk about podcasts in the past few years, I would be very surprised. There are LOADS OF PODCASTS!!! Earlier this year, NPR podcasters spread the pod love via the #trypod campaign. The goal was to share what podcasts you listen to via the #trypod  hashtag. For just over a decade, I have enjoyed listening to a variety of podcasts on my commute, while running, on vacation, or just strolling with my pup. These portable stories, events, and news pieces have entertained and educated me on the go — it was like radio on-demand! My pod streams are filled with amazing content to enhance my personal and professional development and offer new insights about the world around me. I have learned so much from listening to podcasts – new ideas, book recommendations, or introductions to new people – there are so many takeaways pouring into my earbuds.  So many podcasts have contributed to my learning, teaching, research and practice in higher education … and I am not surprised to learn others subscribe to podcasts for their professional learning and development as well.

A growing number of higher education students, staff, and faculty are listening AND learning from podcasts. The wealth of information shared on a video/audio podcasts allows listeners to learn about resources, ideas, and information to enhance the work we do at our institutions. These mobile-friendly, portable PD resources are not only consumed, but they are also being created and produced by higher education colleagues and organizations. So what is the state of podcasting in higher ed?

To learn more about this and explore what is happing in post-secondary podcast land, let me introduce you to the Higher Ed Podcast Project.  We want to CURATE and SHARE podcasts impacting professional learning and development for higher ed peers, specifically to answer the following questions:

  • What video/audio podcasts are higher education professionals (graduate students, faculty, and staff) listening to for learning and development?

  • What podcasts are being produced/created for and in higher education (non-lecture/classroom-based)?

  • How has podcast consumption impacted or influenced the work (teaching, research, or service) you do in higher education?

Definition & Focus for Project

We are interested in exploring podcasts in higher education for professional learning and development; however, we want YOU to understand how we are defining a “podcast” as this medium has taken a number of shapes and forms over the years. For our research purposes, we are defining a podcast and our research focus as:

  • the podcast content is created and shared to support professional development, learning, and/or information distribution
  • the podcast has a target audience might include graduate learners (e.g. masters or doctoral researchers), professional school students (e.g. social work, medicine, etc.), staff/administration, and/or faculty in higher education
  • the podcast is in an audio and/or video format that can be subscribed, downloaded, and/or streamed from an electronic device (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile)
  • the podcast is a program, show, broadcast, and/or episodes with a specific purpose or topic focussed on the higher education domain
  • the podcast includes original content development intention: it was designed for a podcast, e.g. we are not including a recorded college/university lecture, conference panel/presentation, professional learning webinars, recorded meeting, etc. (unless it was edited to fit into a podcast)
  • the podcast can be active or inactive

What podcasts are YOU listening to, Higher Ed?

To help this higher ed podcast project, we want to openly curate a LIST OF AUDIO and VIDEO PODCASTS dedicated to higher education professionals. This OPEN call for podcasts will help us understand and SHARE the current state of podcasting in higher education. This is where you come in. Please ADD to the higher education podcast list (and other podcasts on the second tab) to let us know what YOU listen to for your professional learning and development: 

http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts

Want to learn more? Check out our research site: https://higheredpodcasts.wordpress.com/

Podcast, Research Methods

Research Interviews and Asking Good Questions

I have been thinking about interviews and how to ask better questions/interview for a while. Research questions unpack what is going on with the world around us. As an early career scholar, I want to unpack experiences, thoughts, and situations people are dealing with in the workplace (e.g.  networked professional lives, open online learning, mentoring relationships) to learn more about a particular phenomenon. I know good research comes from solid research preparation.

Last summer  I spent a couple of months, with my co-investigator Paul, digging into the empirical literature, academic findings, theoretical frameworks and debates around concepts and issues we want to unpack in our study. I appreciate his willingness to work and put the time up-front to prepare for our research interviews.

“Research designs begins with questions researchers and their partners want to answer about a particular problem, population, process, project, or topic they want to explore” (LeCompte & Schensul, 2010, p. 130).

We framed our research questions around issues addressed in other academic papers — you know, building on the shoulders of giants — and to unpack what is happening in the online and offline realm for higher education professionals. For our semi-structured interviews, we have a set of structured questions to guide open-ended discussions on relevant topics related to the themes, issues, and concepts we want to discuss (Kvale, 2007). By using the intensive interview techniques shared in Charmaz’s (2014) constructing grounded theory text, most of our questions are open-ended. This method was designed to encourage participants to reflect and share experiences, by starting questions with: “Tell me about…”, “Could you describe… or “Can you walk me through…”  Asking research questions to solicit for a comprehensive and an open response is everything.

This research design thinking not only developed our interview protocols, research questions, and data management plan, it also allows us to be fully immersed in our conversations while we conduct the interview now.  I think conducting a quality research interview is a skill. A skill that gets developed, honed and enhanced as you go. I always learn how to improve upon this each time I talk with a research participant. While being immersed in the interviews, I have kept this sage advice George (thanks!) offered when we were conducting interviews with a large number of open, online learners:

  • Give wait time to think before answering and tell them that you are doing that.

  • Listen to their replies and ask probing questions that aren’t listed below but go toward the issues we are trying to explore.

Now that we’re 60+ interviews deep with our project, I continue to think about this advice and understand what we are learning so far. I am also thinking about what we are asking, how we are approaching topics, and identifying where we might need to go as our questions reach a certain saturation point. If you have already graciously volunteered your time and shared for our study: THANK YOU SO MUCH!  If you are a higher education professional who would like to contribute and be interviewed for our research, we are still accepting participants for our study here: http://bit.ly/networkedself

UPDATED: Friday, August 11, 2017

R.I.P. #Turnaroundpod — it’s sad to hear that your podcast series is coming to a close. THANKS SO MUCH for producing The Turnaround Podcast, Jesse. It will be sad to see you go! Want to read more about this? Check out the Ask Me Anything (AMA) of Jesse Thorn on Reddit.

Recently, I started listening to Jesse Thorn’s  The Turnaround podcast (that partners with the Columbia Journalism Review -thanks for the transcripts!) This podcast flips the script and interviews people who typically interview others.

the-turnaround-cover_6

Image c/o The Turnaround! a Maximum Fun Production

These interviews unpack the art form of an interview and how to best investigate a story. Thorn asks how to best interview and also demonstrates how to summarize ideas and follow with an open-ended question for a response. Although most of these interviewers are producing interviews for public consumption and listening, there are some great takeaways from this 1:1 series about interviewing:

In addition to listening to podcasts or reading scholarly books about interviews, I thank and credit the @BreakDrink podcast production for providing me with the skills to conduct effective research. My “study” in podcasting (and research interviews) began just over 7 years when I received a DM from Jeff Jackson to see if I’d like to co-host a podcast. Although I was just starting my Ph.D. program, I think some of my early lessons for qualitative research actually came from the episodes where we invited brilliant people onto the Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) podcast for an interview. Both my experience with podcast production and research interviews, have offered me a few insights for being a more effective interviewer:

  • Pre-Interview survey: Ask your podcast guest or interview participant a few questions about the topic in advance. For podcasts, we would have them complete a brief bio and see a few of the questions we might ask ahead of time. For interviews, we might have a pre-questionnaire or interview sign-up with requests for demographic information, topics about the research, or their role for the study research.
  • Organize and prepare: Do you work in advance! Create a shared doc (if on a collaborative team) or prep notes for each show production or segment of your research interviews. This would include the potential protocols, research questions, interview topics/issues, and information you would need for each recording. Review the pre-interview survey data and see how they might relate to your research questions.
  • Play with the technology to figure out what works for you: Technical tools have changed over the past 7 years of my podcasting/researching. I continue to learn as I go and as I collaborate with others. I now record with Audio Hijack+Skype/web conference/phone, edit in GarageBand/Audacity by splicing clips either for public consumption or to minimize for transcription costs, and find a secure cloud storage space for your audio files and notes.
  • Speaking of notes… ALWAYS TAKE NOTES: Besides recording the audio, I often scribe notes during a conversation or interview. These notes could include a quote, key point, idea, or issue. For the podcast, this might include a URLs and resources we would share with the show notes with the episode. For research, this ensured I was listening and noting what participants were saying and often it would spark a follow-up question or explore another aspect of our study I wanted to know about.  Pro-Tip: I use “analog” journals to write my research notes with pen and paper. I often return to my notes to make an annotation, highlight a concept, find another research question, and to review how the series of interviews are progressing.
  • Make time for reflection: After each episode of the podcast, I often would have a follow-up blog post with information and ideas shared. This practice I still do when I conduct a research interview, but often it’s a private act scribed in my journal or shared with my co-collaborators on a project.  This habit has me process what I am exploring, learning, and sorting out in my head.
  • Manage and archive your files: Be sure you create a system to label and itemize your digital files and notes. I am meticulous for organizing my life and projects (as I live in the digital) in particular ways. Set your own system so you can track where items are and code how these files/interviews are relevant to your project (or podcast). This will help you later when you go to code transcripts or you are interested in a particular issue/trend in your study.

References:

Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kvale, S. (2007). Doing interviews. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

LeCompte, M. D., & Schensul, J. J. (1999). Designing and conducting ethnographic research (Vol. 1), 2nd Edition. Plymouth, UK: Altamira Press.

#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:

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