University of South Florida St. Petersburg
held April 3 in St. Petersburg
TAA's annual convention, held at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus on April 3, drew members from as far away as Japan. A dozen academic experts presented attendees with new ideas affecting academic publishing and research. Six presentations covered a range of topics that included evolving academic publishing markets, writing and scholarship in the university setting, creating teacher-author supplements for K-12 teachers, communicating complex concepts using simple language, doing complex web-based academic research and acquiring images for use in scholarly publications.
keynoter shared publishing insights
Professor Robert Picard journeyed from Sweden to St. Petersburg, Florida to address his peers TAA's convention held on April 3.
Picard led the session, "Changing Economics of Scholarly Publishing", with an overview of the impact of evolving media markets on academic publishing. Picard, professor of economics and director of the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden, discussed publishing in a modern global economy that is increasingly trading industry for information.
He described publishing as a growing power player in the information market. He detailed how growing university enrollment, university libraries, and textbook budgets have inspired the printing of 50,000 new higher education text books per year.
In Picard's view of media marketing dynamics, publishers are churning out new textbook editions every three or four years in order to compete with the used book market. In turn, legislature is attempting to the fix rising book costs so that students can afford all the new editions.
According to his research, the expanding world of academic publishing has developed to supply a growing population of students. Growing demand for the textbook product is in turn inspiring competitive niche markets, where authors battle publishers who are more concerned with marketability than content. The emergence of competitive on-line e-books is adding to the dynamic of academic publishing. Digitalization and electronic media are driving up the production costs for textbook publication. E-books and e-journals enjoy lower production costs but require costly intellectual property protection. "Transformation is created by and causing changes," Picard said.
According to Picard, textbook publishers are responding to the market flux by seeking new markets internationally, moving into trendy niche markets, and taking part in mergers and joint ventures in the hope of slashing some of their manufacturing, warehousing and distribution costs.
not quantity of scholarship key to tenure and promotion
Mark Durand, professor of psychology and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at USF St. Petersburg, and Robert Diamond, author, higher education consultant and president of the National Academy for Academic Leadership, discussed what accomplishments beyond an impressive volume of publications should contribute to faculty scholarship in a TAA convention talk entitled, "Publication, Scholarship, Tenure, and Promotion."
"Are you having an impact in your field?" Durand asked the roomful of scholars. Durand addressed the need to turn to experts to determine the work with impact. "A dean can only count," he said, referring to the number of published accomplishments considered in determining tenure. Durand highlighted the need to find the quality work in the quantity of publications. He examined some of the hierarchy of professorship, advising the assistant professor to concentrate on research and to be a model for students. "We are looking for someone who attends to their students," Durand said. At the same time, Durand encouraged the associate professor to be a good scholar. "Is this person going to be a productive scholar the day after he receives tenure?" Durand asked, stressing the need for balance.
Diamond, author of the book, Preparing for Promotion, Tenure, and Annual Review: A Faculty Guide, cited reliance on department input to find experts in the field. He suggested that scholarship should break new ground in the field and provide the foundation for further work, while satisfying the traditional criteria of remaining scholarly, illustrating expertise in the discipline, showing thorough documentation, and gaining peer support. He cited these values in determining the quality of publication and the degree of scholarly work: "It has to break new ground and move the field ahead."
veteran teachers to help less experienced ones
Doug Matthews, president of Teaching Point, brought a panel of teacher-authors into a TAA convention session that introduced the idea of having expert teachers write coursework for out-of-field, less experienced teachers. The teacher-authored texts include lesson plans, teaching tips, class notes, and student and teacher workbooks. "It's a life saver for those who get thrown into the deep end," Matthews said. "We provide soup to nuts, everything a teacher needs."
Each of the teachers on Matthews' panel balanced teaching, grading, conferences, and daily homework with their authoring efforts to produce courses for struggling teachers. These teacher-authors retain text copyrights on the courses that they write for Teaching Point. David Lovell, a history teacher from Nashville, stressed the importance of testing books in a practical environment with his students. He has written a United States history course. Dianna Smith, a journalism teacher from Houston, has created coursework that integrates a web site, on-line classroom and library to keep her coursework relevant, topical, and instantly accessible.
"Journalism happens every day. Things are different every day," Smith said. Carol Matthews, a Jacksonville marine and environmental science instructor, has written numerous courses in the sciences. She talked about the idea of building a university curriculum from the K-12 level up.
"Start at the universities and ask, what do you want your students to know?" she asked the academics in the audience. What university students know, she suggested, is based in the K-12 foundation knowledge base. The panel stressed the importance of preparing students for the university level by having qualified instruction at the K-12 level. Doug Matthews said that the "Teaching Point" advanced placement chemistry book prompted a 98 percent test passage rate.
"This is really a care package for the educational community," he said of the program.
Walters illustrate how to simplify language
University of South Florida professors Deni Elliott, Poynter-Jamison chair of media ethics and press policy, and Mark Walters, author of the recent book, Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them, led a TAA convention panel on simplifying language. The two discussed what makes an effective communicator and addressed the value of simplifying complex ideas for real-life application. They referred to this as the "KISS method", or "Keeping It Simple is Smart."
Elliott used examples from a documentary film about the burden of knowledge and her weekly radio talk show, "Ethically Speaking", to illustrate how difficult abstract concepts can be distilled into breathing models of ethics and morality. Elliott suggested that most textbooks in her field are impractical. Instead, she advocates the use of simple analogies to illustrate complex philosophical concepts, in an attempt to give morality a practical application. Elliott's documentary film, for example, concerns the burden of responsibility imposed on a mother who has knowledge about her unborn child's disability. Elliott asks what the mother does with that knowledge, coupled with ethical responsibility. She has also used the many hands analogy to illustrate moral responsibility.
She asked the TAA scholars, "If you are one of many hands involved in torturing someone, are you responsible for the torture?"
Elliott made a plea for the practice of philosophy, asking the audience of her peers not to reduce philosophical theories to bumper stickers. She stressed the importance of keeping philosophy close at hand, familiar, as a tool for translating the practical experiences of everyday life.
"It is not so much a mystique, as much as really trying to communicate," she said. Walters talked about tackling tough ideas from science with ordinary language.
Walters' talk elaborated on the difference between the expert and the expert writer. He warned against sacrificing clear communication to elevated language. "Be humble and write well. Elevate your status, disenfranchise the reader." he said.
He illustrated the etymology of language, warning against the use of obtuse, Latinate words where more Germanic phrases could be more effective. He talked about keeping sentences simple in order to communicate complex ideas. Walters attempted to demystify language, breaking down complex ideas by using simple language. He explored the idea of using the narrative as an effective tool in chiseling away the chaff of unapproachable information. He chalked a diagram to illustrate the intrinsic universality of language. He drew the connection between ideas with a simple line drawing chalked on the board that parallels a phrase.
"All non-fiction prose writing exists along a single continuum," he said, illustrating complex language in a simple gesture. In his most recent book, Walters links the abstract concept of epidemic and a vast base of scientific research to a non-fiction story line where the reader encounters real people.
He talked about using interwoven story lines to knit together the topic of epidemic for his reader. His latest book, an investigation into the nature of ecology and epidemic, explains complex scientific concepts to a broad, non-expert audience.
researchers can go beyond Google
David Davis, a competitive intelligence manager with the Copyright Clearance Center, a digital content management resource, introduced the benefits of complex web-based research in academics with his TAA convention presentation, "Premium Research: Going Beyond Google".
Davis explained the difference between complex premium research and simplistic open web research in the next afternoon seminar in St. Petersburg. He elaborated on the idea of targeting on-line research methods to return relevant results, accentuating a quality of directed research over a quantity of disconnected information.
"It's not about serving up the longest list of results," said Davis, of on-line researching.
Davis offered a list of alternative search engines that supply factual data instead of market data. He gave tips to take the academic researcher beyond "Google", listing premium sites like "Factiva", "DIALOG", "SCIRUS", "Lexis-Nexis", and "Firstgov.gov". Davis suggested that these alternative search tools are crafted for specifics, taking a closer aim at the target of research. These sites query for quality over the quantity traditionally returned by search engines like "Google".
"More isn't always better," said Davis. The alternative sites suggest more personalized research, he said. His talk emphasized that a move away from the overused "Google" phenomenon, coupled with the application of advanced searches, could result in data becoming more targeted to academic research. He illustrated the advanced techniques of applying "domain", "file type", "Boolean", "proximity", "truncation", "field" and "metadata" to narrow results in on-line scholarly research.
Davis also stressed the importance of responsible research, which includes clearly defined criteria and a critique of the quality of the source. He warned against being to trusting of on-line information, and called for informed research.
"What is the authority of this source and to what degree can I trust it?" David asked of the academic researcher.
procure artwork for your textbook
Professors Chris Harris and Paul Lester Elliott, communication specialists and co-authors if the book, Visual Journalism: A Guide for New Media Professionals, led a TAA convention discussion on how to procure artwork for use in academic text for publication.
Harris has taught digital media communication at Middle Tennessee State University since 1990. His photography has been shown at venues around the world. Elliott teaches visual communication and media ethics at California State University in Fullerton. Both Harris and Elliott are extensively published visual communications experts, respected in the field for research as well as creative work.
The discussion, "Procuring Art for Your Book Projects", gave tips on properly procuring and publishing images in text. Harris and Elliott elaborated on permitting image use, altering existing info-graphics, and avoiding copyright violation. They cautioned academic authors to be cautious with the grey areas of royalties and perpetuities when publishing images with their text. The experts also elaborated on the easiest road to ownership of photographs. "Take them yourself," Elliott offered, tongue-in-cheek.
Harris actually used about 150 of his own images in the visual journalism text that he co-authored with Elliott.
As an alternative to the non-photographer text book author, Harris discussed how to obtain domain free artwork with expired copyrights. He illustrated getting free rights to images by promising owners publicity in the form of inserted credit lines and copyright information near the image in the book. He also stressed being a good researcher and negotiator when exploring the sources and owners of images. The experts showed how newspapers, magazines, museums, universities, libraries, on-line resources, and even academic colleagues can all provide rich hunting grounds for image gathering. Both Elliott and Harris also outlined the importance of handling image research as professionally as one might handle text research. "It's just good common sense," said Harris.
Robert G. Picard, one of the world's leading academic specialists in media economics and managment, will discuss the changing economics of scholarly publishing during his TAA presentation at the TAA convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 3.
Picard, Hamrin professor of economics and director of the Media Managment and Transformation Centre in Jonkoping International Business School at Jonkoping University in Sweden, will discuss how changes in the structure of the industry, the increasing number of titles and specialization, cost issues, and business models are altering the traditional practices of the industry and opportunities for authors.
Picard's research focuses on economic structures of media markets, media industries and firms, demand for media products and services, business models and strategies of media operations, productivity of media firms, financial performance and government policies affecting economic aspects of media. His research has involved newspapers, advertising, broadcasting and new media.
Historian Gary Mormino, and ethicist Deni Elliott have joined Friday's TAA convention panel, The Kiss (Keeping it Simple is Smart). The panel will discuss various ways to explain very complex ideas to non-expert audiences, while maintaining academic authenticity.
Session: How K-12 Teachers Successfully Manage Teaching, Writing
Doug Matthews, president of Teaching Point, which develops course preparation materials written by expert teachers for out-of-field, new, or veteran K-12 teachers, will host the TAA convention Saturday luncheon session at Mansion By the Bay. Several successful K-12 authors will speak about juggling their teaching, family and writing responsibilities.
"We want to help and encourage practicing K-12 teacher in the writing process and give encouragement to prospective teacher-authors to tackle their own writing projects," said Matthews, whose Teaching Point company publishes the Expert Systems for TeachersT Series. "The schedule of the K-12 teacher/author is not as forgiving as the college professor who writes a textbook. It's much harder for the K-12 teacher to get the writing process to fit into their schedule."
The goals of the session, said Matthews, are to discuss:
Matthews will also discuss the Teacher Preparation Material Preservation Project, a mission to serve the educational community by developing a "faculty" of K-12 "mentoring" teachers committed to preserving and codifying their career knowledge for the benefit of teachers with new or out-of-subject (a subject in which the instructor has neither a college major or minor) assignments (with 200 courses on the list to develop; 30 published now, 40 more this summer).
"The overall scope of the project that these K-12 teachers have committed to includes not only the classroom material, but also online courses by subject that will be offered in partnership with universities," he says. "This will help solve the problem of qualifying teachers by the end of the 2005-2006 school year when, according to the No Child Left Behind Education Act, all teachers must be qualified in the subjects they teach."
For more information about the Teacher Preparation Material Preservation Project may be found at http://www.teaching-point.net
Google: Super searching tips and techniques
Christopher Kenneally, director of Author & Creator Relations for Copyright Clearance Center, will present "Premium Research: Going Beyond Google," at the TAA convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 3. Kenneally's session is aimed at helping authors get more from their online searches.
His presentation will be based on a set of free online seminars he conducted with information industry guru George Plosker on the critical differences between "open web" and "premium content" databases. "Open web" refers to search engines like Google, which delivers mostly excellent results, said Plosker, but focuses almost exclusively on the world of commerce. "Premium content" databases, on the other hand, he said, contain a wealth of information from the world of scholarly journals, magazines and "peer-reviewed" periodicals accessible via electronic databases.
Premium content, what Kenneally and Plosker call a "very high level of information" cannot be found unless researchers go beyond Google. And although searching premium content databases is not as simple as a basic online (open web) search, and it returns far fewer "results" than an online search, it does produce better results, they said.Kenneally's presentation will discuss the differences between open web and premium database searches, evaluate participants' research skills, and provide super searching tips and techniques.
How to explain complex ideas to expert audiences
Mark Jerome Walters, author of Six Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them, will participate in "The KISS (Keeping it Simple is Smart)," panel on how to explain very complex ideas to non-expert audiences while maintaining academic credibility, at the TAA convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 2.
"The issue isn't about the general public better understanding science," said Walters, a professor of journalism and media studies at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and a contributing editor of Orion magazine. "It's about scientists better understanding the general public. And it's not just about the academic credibility of science writers; it's also about the public credibility of scientists."
Walters' science writing has been widely praised by publications such as The New York Times, which said of his Six Modern Plagues: "In a clear, engaging style, Dr. Walters tells the tale of each disease like a detective story. He allows each mystery to unfold as it did in reality, often slowly, through the lives of the plants and animals involved, the first human victims, the government officials who tried to respond, and the scientists who ultimately explained what was happening."
Walters explains the difference in perspective of the scientist and the science writer: "One person peers at a cell through a microscope and describes what he sees. Another peers at the cell through an electron microscope and describes what she sees. The descriptions are utterly different. But is one description any less accurate than the other?"
Convention tailored to TAA's growing academic author membership
TAA's upcoming conference in St. Petersburg, Florida promises something for everyone in the organization's rapidly growing and rapidly changing membership, said co-chairs Jay Black and Paul Siegel.
"A year ago, exactly half of our members indicated that textbook writing was their major non-fiction activity, and the other half listed academic authoring," said Black and Siegel. "This year, thanks largely to Tara Gray's highly successful on-campus workshops, 71 percent of TAA's much larger membership listed academic authoring as their major activity. With that in mind, we have lined up speakers, panels, and activities that should resonate with all of us."
In addition to bringing back popular presentations on negotiating with editors and publishers, learning about royalties, and exploring alternative methods of publishing, said Black and Siegel, this year's sessions include a long-overdue exchange among writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and bookbuyers; a candid assessment by university administrators about what really counts as scholarship for tenure and promotion; a luncheon session on K-12 authoring; a debate over teaching from our own textbooks; indexing; procuring art; self- publishing; diversity; and ways to keep complex materials simple and readable. A light- hearted but semi-serious panel on "Living With An Author," featuring TAA spouses and partners, is also scheduled, they said.
An international expert on media economics will kick off Saturday's sessions. Dr. Robert Picard, professor of economics and director of Media Management and Transformation Centre in Jonkoping University, Sweden, will talk about "The Changing Economics of Scholarly Publishing."
"Picard has a reputation as a highly engaging and provocative speaker, and his topic should be of special interest to anyone concerned about the marketplace of ideas," said Black and Siegel.
Click here for the preliminary program. If you are interested in being on one of the panels, please contact Jay Black at [email protected] or Paul Siegel [email protected] as soon as possible. Changes in the program will be noted on the TAA website and in weekly TAA News Alerts by e-mail leading up to the convention.
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