Blog Updates and Strategy Share: Finding Your Authorial Voice

Greetings!

I hope this post finds you well!

NOTE: I took a bit of time to update some of this blog’s pages. If so inclined, have a look around. Nearly every blog page has been updated. For example, the Video and Soundtrack for the Journey page now contains a smattering of videos, and the videos and forms and information on the Accountability|Focus page have all been updated. This blog’s blogroll (to the far left) has been updated. I tried to make everything current. 🙂

I hope you enjoy and/or benefit from some of the changes. On to the main topic of this post . . .

Developing Your Authorial Academic Voice

How did you or do you do this? I spent so much time in the literature that I knew what everyone else thought but not what I thought.

Here are two strategies I’ve been using of late that have actually helped me to develop my own, authorial voice.

Strategy #1: Take notes and/or extract quote excerpts from sources. Then, begin typing ONLY once you’ve internalized paraphrases of them.

My method here is to study the notes I’ve taken in order to internalize them, then talk them aloud (into a recorder or to hubby). Then I check what I’ve said against the notes. I do this 1-3 times until I’ve really internalized the material and am explaining it in my own words, with extra examples and such.

Then and only then do I attempt to type from my new knowledge base, which fares VERY differently than typing from a (sometimes very large) collection of unfamiliar notes.

I just started this strategy a few days ago, and it’s really made a difference. It takes a bit of time upfront, but this approach MORE than makes up for that on the back end. If I have more than 3 pages of notes, I break up the internalize+paraphrase and typing into batches.

I “mentioned” this to someone at PhinisheD who concurred wholeheartedly. He (or she) uses this strategy and feels it’s a great approach. I was glad to hear the affirmation.

Caution: Take care to PARAPHRASE. Do not plagiarise!!! Your credibility as a scholar goes down the toilet once you are known to steal others’ thoughts or ideas or — also incredibly troubling — are known to not understand the basics of source attribution.

Strategy #2: Take notes in a he says, she says, I say format.

As I read a group of articles the other day and sought to synthesize their content, I took notes like this:

Jones (2004) says: Basketball is fun but is bad on the knees. Too much shock from impact of running up and down the floor.

Keitherson, Mateo, and BeanieMan (2012) say: Suck it up! Your knees’ll strengthen. Stop cryin’!

I say: In light of Jordan’s (2007) findings, K, M, & B neglect the psychological detriment of exercising with pain. Aversion to exercise can develop, as CouchPotatoSmith & Allen (2008) found in their study of ___ participants . . .

This structure helped me to begin to connect what I was reading.

What About You?

Do you write as an AUTHOR and not just as a CITER? Were you from the beginning sort of just a natural at this, or did you work at this? Do you have advice, tips, or strategies to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Blessings!

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A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014

PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014

Two to three years ago I was exploring academic writing software such as Qiqqa and Docear. Since then, their developers have made impressive improvements and additions to them, and there’s been a FLOOD of new academic software into the mix. I’ve somewhat had my nose to the grindstone and have missed some of the new software, such as PaperPile. In light of these recent changes, I have decided to maintain a record of my latest estimation of the best personal academic writing workflow that would work for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to make tweaks now: I’m submitting soon and want to focus there. As has been said by many folks, everyone’s BEST academic writing workflow will necessarily be very individual, to accommodate preferences and needs. For instance, I can’t handle wondering about whether everything that was supposed to be cited has a citation, and whether every citation has an entry in my works cited. Therefore I don’t anticipate removing Citavi from my workflow ANY time soon. Citavi gives me great clarity and confidence in that area. Others trial Citavi and am glad I like it but keep EndNote (or their reference manager of choice). But ask them to let go off Scrivener, and you might have a fight on your hands!

The Process of My Decision Making

Instead of aiming to have the lowest possible number of apps in my workflow, I aimed for

  • Sustainability: Will this product remain available for a while and are any costs affordable?
  • Program and work data stability and data protection
  • Psychology and nature of academic writing
  • And utility: Is what I do or make with this program actually important for my writing? After controlling for sustainability and stability factors, does this program do/enable this thing I need in the way best for me? And . . . OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE: Can I move or use what I produce or do in this program out to the next place it needs to be to ultimately result in finished, not-too-hard-to-then-format, sharable writing?

In the end, there’s much overlap among the programs I included (every developer is trying to be comprehensive), not every program is “perfect” (whatever that means!), but what each program does well can be accomplished with no other software (or not well) and helps me finish up writing.

A key take-away I had from completing this exercise was to understand the overlap among academic programs I use and to NOT do double work: Choose which program does the overlapped task best, and work efficiently by using THAT program ONLY for the task.

Here are my preliminary thoughts, then, captured on a PDF and prioritizing what might enable me to write best and most “safely.” Please click on the following link to enlarge the PDF (which contains hyperlinks to the software mentioned in the workflow diagram). The “scary” thought I’m having right now is that if Qiqqa developers were to add the functions of outlining, quote-attaching to outlines, and citation-attaching to quotes, I’d be all messed up! (What to do then, what to do then, what to do, then!) It’s crazy. That’s why I’m taking a step back and just writing down my thoughts on tweaks and keeping with what I’ve got that’s working for me. PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014 UPDATE: Now that I’m sitting down to draft, I’m remembering Idea Mason as an amazing outline, sketch-write, and zeroeth draft environment. I have to add it to the mix!: PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014

Closing

There’s just too much out there now! I feel it’s good and it’s not. On the one hand, you can spend a lot of time doing work and putting resources into a program that makes it hard to then use the work and resources.So you’d better trial software and plan and choose carefully. On the other hand, there can be no end to exploring these apps and thinking through workflow. Rule I’m imposing on myself: If the workflow you’ve got is working, there needs to be a mighty good reason to make tweaks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. How often do you tweak your workflow? What would you hate to do without in your workflow? Is there too much of all this “stuff” out there now, such that it’s getting confusing? Or is all this influx of choice good? Click the bubble to comment! 🙂 Take care! Mickey

WizFolio: A Competitor to Mendeley (more Robust) that Enables Writing, Citing, and Collaboration in the Cloud?

Greetings, all!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the final stages of my thesis work and cannot post as frequently or in-depth as I typically would.

Normally I would take the time to trial an app or piece of software before mentioning it here, and I would include my initial impressions of the app/software, often followed by a follow-up post updating my impressions.

Since it’s crunch time for me, I’m simply going to share a link to the app’s website and a link to a few of their videos. If you do look into the app, I’d love to hear your first impressions.

NOTE: That’s my way of saying, “I’m curious. Post your comments, please! I can’t in good conscience look into this now, but perhaps there’s a fix (LOL!): I could learn about it based on your experiences and what you think, right? Say something! Say something!” 😉

Yeah, I know. But as a former computer scientist turned educator turned researcher, it’s just in me. 🙂 Oh, well. 😀

On to the app itself . . .

The Cross-platform Web App: WizFolio

There are many WizFolio videos on YouTube, including many on how Apple users use WizFolio on the Ipad and in other iOS environments (WizFolio is a web app, though). The following three videos, in my opinion, seem to provide the viewer with a good sense of WizFolio. However, as I have yet to explore more videos or the app itself, I may be in error there.

One thing: What about the pay wall issue? This seems to not simply allow folks to scale it, but just obliterate it completely. Hmm. Remember the movie “A Perfect Murder” with Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen? You probably remember that scene when, with oh so much ice, Michael Douglas’s character told Gwyneth’s character “That’s not happiness to see me.” Yeah. I feel that scene could be re-enacted, with WizFolio as Michael’s character and Gwyneth’s played by any of your paid, online journals of choice.

Aside: Paperpile (here’s a video) seems similar and has me wondering if things are just going that way now, to the cloud? Paperpile is a Google reference, search, and citation app for using Google Docs to writing individually or in collaboration, with citation and auto-reference-list-building functionality and such. I don’t know if I’m ready to draft and write — to have my pre-publish thoughts — in the cloud! I haven’t yet needed to write collaboratively, though.

That about exhausts my current level of expertise ( 😉 ) on WizFolio. As always, Godspeed regarding all of your present endeavors. The videos are embedded below.

Happy writing, and take care!

Mickey