Links: Why We Write, Peer Editing, Names and Titles

In this Academic Minute podcast, Dana Washington of Lock Haven University discusses why we write. She is speaking about writing broadly as self-expression, but I think her remarks also have relevance for academic writers. Admittedly, academic writers do write to fulfill various requirements and obligations, and we often do so under complicated pressures of both time and expectations. Despite these hindrances, however, we can still try to view the writing task as a valuable opportunity to share the research and reflections that inform our intellectual lives.

This article from the National Post has very little to do with academic writing, but I loved this quote  from Iain Reid about sharing our draft writing: “I rarely ask friends to read a work in progress. It’s a frustrating affair. My friends are busy. They have other things to read, interesting and funny things, things online or things that already have a title, spine and are bound; not disorganized sentences that are only partially formed. On the rare occasion it does happen, the results are frustrating, too. I don’t actually want to discuss it. I’m not actually hoping for constructive criticism. Just ignore the spelling mistakes, discount the preachy and rambly parts and just tell me how it’s borderline genius.” That basic asymmetry–I give you my writing asking for criticism but hoping for praise–presumably derails a lot of potentially valuable peer editing.

Finally, here is some practical advice from Inside Higher Ed on the use of titles when addressing faculty. And here is a related blog post from Hook and Eye by an instructor who will answer to anything. I too will answer to anything, but my preference is definitely for students to call me by my first name. The formality of titles may have value in some settings, but I feel it adds nothing to my teaching situation. In fact, the relative informality of using first names emphasizes, I hope, the way academic writing is an ongoing challenge that my students and I need to tackle together.

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