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Flourish: An Electronic Newsletter for Scholarly Writers May-June 2008

vol. 4, no. 4

It’s that time of year when those academics in the Western semester system are released from teaching obligations and must embark on the writing projects they only fantasized about all year. One key to accomplishing writing this summer is to make a plan for writing now. Map out the weeks and days, and figure out when you are going to get writing done. First things first!

What's in Style

A new edition of the famous guide to style in literary studies is out: MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. This third edition has finally gotten rid of the idiotic rule to underline titles instead of using italics. Hooray! It also provides useful information on the review process at journals and a simplified citation format for electronic sources.

Tempests in the Blogosphere

A Flourish reader called my attention to the tirade Peer review or smear review? Reflections on a rigged system and resulting discussion on whether the peer review system can be fruitfully changed.

Workshop My Title!

When I am teaching my writing course, one of the assignments that we enjoy the most is workshopping article titles. Every participant puts his or her title up on the blackboard and, through dialogue with the other participants about the article's content and audience, we together devise a better title.

As you can imagine, the title of my forthcoming writing workbook has gone through many such discussions. However, the publisher is now asking if there is any way I can shorten the subtitle. So, I’m asking for your help. If you have any thoughts, please hit reply and let me know which title below would most likely inspire you (or someone like you) to buy the book.

Keep in mind that (1) most people buy manuals online after doing a key word search, (2) the best titles name the solution that the book provides and are memorable. The most popular books in this general category are How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (12 words) and Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (17 words). Titles can make a huge difference, as Teddi McDonald points out: The Squash Book sold only 1,500 copies; The Zucchini Cookbook sold 300,000 copies, probably because the first title could be about any number of things.

Options

Current Title: Writing and Publishing the Academic Article: A Step-by-Step Guide to Sending Your Essay to a Journal in Twelve Weeks (21 words)

Potential Title 1: Writing and Publishing Your Academic Article: A Step-by-Step Guide (11 words)

Potential Title 2: Writing Your Academic Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Getting Published in Journals (14 words)

Or … your flavorful suggestion?

News from the Editor

The past four months have been an extraordinary period for me. In February I was invited to join the faculty of Princeton University. In March I completed my writing workbook manuscript. In May, I filed my dissertation at UCLA and completed all the requirements for my PhD. I am now all Doctored up! (As some of you know, I returned to graduate school after I started to teach the academic writing course and after many years of working as a writer and editor.) It’s odd when so many different projects come to fruition at the same time. I finished teaching this week and look forward to a summer of wrapping up several other writing projects, preparing classes for the fall, and hanging out with friends in Los Angeles before the big move in August to New Jersey.