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10 quick writing tips in the academic world.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
My colleague and friend from grad school days at Wisconsin, Dr. Veronica Acosta, text messaged me tonight. During our chat, she noted that she has to do a presentation for faculty at Cal State Long Beach on writing this week Tuesday January 8th. Veronica noted that I had some succcess lately in publishing (ya, after many years and stacks of article rejections, I have had 65 articles published that past 3 years and 15 more things in review or in press) so it has been a good run. I give her links to my 3 blogs posts on writing tips and ideas. In addition, I added the 10 tips below in a text message. I reproduce these 10 tips for others who might be interested:

#1. Create Writing Goals: Goals are perhaps the most important part of a writing plan and success story. Establish your goals for writing = how many articles per year or semester to get out and published. You do not need to meet your goals, but just have them and compare your performance to your goals from time-to-time.

#2. Sharing Goals: Share those goals and the articles produced with colleagues and friends. Goals are even more powerful when you realize that others are aware of them.

#3. Hire Help: Hire part time help for monotonous stuff like finding articles and proofing or editing (spend small amounts of money and it will pay huge returns). This is a no-brainer, but one that frugile people too often neglect.

#4. Create Possible Journal Checklists: Look at lists of where to publish articles and attack that list in a strategic fashion (e.g., see my list of educational technology and e-learning journals at: Check them off as you publish in different ones. Spread your articles around and your reputation will and with that, so, too, will invites to write also grow.

#5. Manufacture Time: Time is the #1 obstacle to writing--so schedule time during the week to write or during the day to write. Also, you might do things like combining meetings back to back to save time to write. I tend to write in bulk. I do not have set hours or a set day of the week; instead, I write for a week or 2 or month at a time. I get everything cleared off my plate and then I have a go at it. Brute force writing as much as I can for as long as I can. Others might not like this approach but it has always worked for me. I leave most of my summers open for writing and no longer teach in the summer.

#6. Understand Journals and Network with Editors: Talk to the editors of journals about their requirements. Get to know them and they might help you out or give you insider tips or expedite the review process where possible. Knowing people, especially those in power, is a good thing when it comes to publishing your ideas. Of course, often this requires you to do something in return such as reviewing articles for their journal or edited book project. You must decide when to jump in and when to back off. But by all means, do not smooze or use people. Be genuine. Work with the people whom you like and respect.

#7. Persistence/Passion: Never give up on an article that you care about or that you think others care about. Passion and persistance are often key to publishing. Since 1999, I do not think that I have given up on an article. Before 1999, it was an all-too-common occurence. If you want to be successful, you must be passionate and also persistent about your work.

#8. Take Risks and Explore Different Forms of Writing and Publishing Outlets: Explore new forms of publishing--Wikibooks, electronic books, open access journals, etc., and even forms of self-publishing. So many outlets for writing are available today--explore them and use those that benefit you and that that help spread your message. Your institution may not reward or recognize all of these outlets--but which is more important to you--the recognition from internal colleagues or the recognition from people around the planet whom you might never have met without making your book or article open access.

#9. Collaborate with Like-Minded People and Support Colleagues: Form a team that might do a special journal issue or edited book and support each other. As stated in #2, writing is always enhanced when you share it and work with others. When you find a group that is genuinely interested in the work of each other, you are bound to find at least some small success.

#10. Play Second Fiddle: Do not always be #1 or first author of an article; being #2 or #3 on an article will give you more time to write; some people (like me) work better once there is some text on the page from someone else. I had 19 things published in 2007, but I was only first author on a few of them and I had 9 research articles in review or revision at the end of the year and was 2nd or 3rd author on all of them.

Hope these quick writing tips help. See also my previous 3 posts which are much more expanded I think (especially #1 below):

1. 30 Writing Tips:

2. 3 P's of Professional Writing (Purpose, Passion, and Pleasure):

3. 3 P's of Publishing (Persistance, Patience, and Push):

Good luck!
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 11:03 PM  
  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Kevin Makice said…

    Any chance you can use your blog and local network to help promote Bloomington Startup Weekend? There is an H-T article coming out soon, but not everyone will be able to read that. You could help by writing a little post or just letting people know there are still two dozen spots remaining.

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Send me an email Kevin telling me what you need and I will be happy to.

  • At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

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