Back to School Reading List

All over the northern hemisphere, instructors and students are headed back to school in the middle of a COVID pandemic. These are strange times and I find myself turning to the words of wisdom of various published authors as I work through how to make sense of our moment in time. I’m taking the liberty of sharing my fall 2020 reading list with you, in hopes that there will be a title that provides insight into your teaching and learning quandaries this fall. Continue reading

Academic Social Media

In February of 2020, Dorie Clark wrote an article for Harvard Business Review titled “Build a Network — Even When You Don’t Think You Need One.” Clark’s main argument is that everyone — even the “lone wolf,” academic type — benefits from having a network of humans with whom they can collaborate. The last section of the her article addresses identifying a vehicle for networking, and I’d like to suggest that various online platforms and social media outlets are excellent networking vehicles. The following is a synopsis of the four digital platforms of networking I have found useful, as well as an outline of some of the pros and cons of those platforms.

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How to Advocate for the Research You’re Already Doing

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Part of our training in graduate school involves fine-tuning the skill of academic research. And a lot of graduate school programs will insist that the holy grail of publishing opportunities lies in the peer-reviewed publication, whether in article or book monograph form.

Upon completion of a graduate degree, if you choose to stay in an academic job with a research component, or find an industry job that requires publication as a metric of employee success, peer-reviewed articles continue to reign supreme among supervisors who need to rack and stack their subordinates against one another for raise and promotion purposes.

In the last 18 months of my job, I’ve had a number of conversations with colleagues about the merits and pitfalls of jobs that have such a narrow evaluation system. Here, I argue that we should value research and publication outside of peer-review metrics. I’ll also offer a tentative plan for advocating for the research that you want to do — rather than the institutionally prescribed format of peer review. Continue reading

Junior Prof’s Book Proposal Tips

I’ll never forget the biggest highlight of my dissertation defense – learning that my dissertation “made sense” as a book to my advisors. I should start by saying that I’m in a field where writing a book is fairly common. There are many researchers out there in STEM, the Social Sciences and the Humanities who will never write a book and whose research findings would be illogically organized if presented in book format. However, I am not among them. I have always envisioned publishing my work as a book and feared greatly that my advisors would tell me not to. Recently, a lot of my time has been occupied by the work of turning my dissertation into a book that makes sense. Earlier this week I took to Twitter to announce an accomplishment of which I am very proud: I submitted my book proposal. Continue reading

Take Ownership and Build Your Tribe: Overcoming the Myth of Guaranteed Acceptance in your Career Path

“Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.” – Fred Rogers

Since I can remember, I have been surrounded by people who encouraged my academic and career pursuits. Often, encouragement came in the form of well wishes that offered hope without any true knowledge of what lay ahead. Being the child of immigrant parents and one of the first in my family to pursue graduate degrees, my family knew enough to say “you’ve got this, keep going” and “the world is yours, follow your dreams.” However, when it came to giving advice on career choices, pushing through barriers, and building my network – that was a different story. Continue reading

Asking the Editors: Part 3

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

This essay is the third in a three-part series dedicated to answering the question “What do university press editors have to say about the mystery surrounding first-time book authorship?” In this series, I’ve shared information and insights from two seasoned book editors, Elizabeth Ault, editor at Duke University Press, and Jim Burr, senior editor at the University of Texas Press.

In the first piece, the editors and I went over what you should know and do leading up to your book’s submission. In the second one, we talked specifically about networking and meeting with editors. This final article is dedicated to the tough stuff. It highlights the role of social media in book publishing, the fears that faculty members often have when it comes to institutional prestige and their ability to secure a contract, and how to avoid being dropped by a press once you’ve agreed to work together. Continue reading

Asking the Editors: Part 2

(Originally published here on Inside Higher Ed.)

Last week, I wrote about an interview I recently conducted with two university press editors — Elizabeth Ault, an editor at Duke University Press, and Jim Burr, senior editor at the University of Texas Press — about first-time book authorship. They shared with me what you should do to prepare your book for submission, including how to know when you are ready to start searching for an editor. In this second essay in a three-part series, I’ll provide Elizabeth and Jim’s perspective on networking and meeting with editors. Continue reading