The Must-read Writing Help Book for Academics

What’re YOU reading?

I read a lot. Last year, I read about a 120 books. I know this because I get most of my books from the library and can view my account history. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not bragging, I’m a slacker; I didn’t read every single word. One of my poetry colleagues says he reads 700 books a year.  He works for a press and reads a lot of manuscripts.

Some books, I scan the chapters and pick out the interesting parts, some books, I get twenty pages in and decide to bail. And some books, I read every word, and, hopefully, by the end, I feel that familiar ping of sadness that a reader gets when the story is over but wishes it would keep going.

For fun, I read mostly poetry and some novels and short stories. Last year, I read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. It floored me. So good. I love good quality writing. I usually read the finalists for the major poetry awards, the Pulitzers, the National Book Award, Oregon Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Nobel winners. I will read books that are not celebrated too.  If a poet friend publishes a book, I’ll read it.

A friend was asked what his writing schedule is. He responded with, “I don’t have a writing schedule, I have a reading schedule.” Good advice  for poets and writers, and for academics for that matter: Take time to read. I wish I had more time to read.  I’m like Burgess Meredith in Time Enough at Last (season 1, episode 8 of the Twilight Zone).

courtesy of google images

What does this have to do with CLA Research?

For my own interests in poetry, I have been reading about how poetry can be used as a research method, how poetry can be used to manage research, how poetry writing workshops can be used to conduct research on communities, poetry as anthropology research. I’ve learned that there is such a thing as research poetry, and I’ve come to realize how much research I do when I write poetry.

I read these sources because I am working on a project forthcoming from Springer Publishing on Coastal Heritage and Cultural Resilience.  It’s part of Springer’s ethnobiology series, and I am pleased that they have allowed me and the collection editors to include poetry and art along with scholarly essays on sociology, history, anthropology, economics, and more. I’ll be sure to blog about that book when it comes out.  The majority of the chapters are contributed by OSU faculty in the College of Liberal Arts.

A colleague tipped me to read A Scrutiny of the Abstract, II by Kenneth K. Landes.  It’s a fun, short essay on the purpose of the abstract, and it gives tips on how to write and what to include in an abstract.

What does this have to do with Research Development?

I have read many grant writing books.  And to you reading this, be ready, post a comment, I am always looking for grant writing book recommendations.

For a workbook on grant writing, I recommend the Mary Licklider’s Grant Seeking in Higher Education: Strategies and Tools for College Faculty. Its step-by-step approach to building a research program can get anybody started. It is often used in faculty development and grant writing workshops.

Joshua Schimel’s Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded was recommended to me by a research development colleague from New Hampshire. It is compact, which I think will appeal to readers, and the end-of-chapter exercises were useful and practical, and reaffirmed my own processes when I work with researchers developing proposals.  It helps readers understand the importance of story and structure.

courtesy of google images

schedule your writing time and protect it

from other commitments and demands

I also read, How to Write a Lot by Paul Silva. What a fun read! It takes a lighthearted approach to academic writing demands.  “Writing is hard, ” Silva writes. It’s a skill, he goes on, “not a genetic gift.” Silva gives practical advice to keep up with the demands of writing. The bottom lines are: schedule your writing time, and protect it. Writing regularly will help you generate content.

Here comes the part of the blog post that will really set your clock!

To those readers who have made this far, welcome!  The purpose of this blog post is to let readers know about the must-read writing help book by Marc J. Kuchner’s Marketing for Scientists. This book will help you become a better writer and get the publications, book deals, and grant funds you need. This book helps you sell your skills to convince investors to buy what you’re selling. Kuchner is an astrophysicist but he understands the business aspect of writing and academia.  With chapters on marketing, building relationships, branding, and more, Kuchner helps readers identify who their audiences are and how we, as writers, have to deliver to our audiences the products they want. On their terms, not ours.

Chapters on proposals, conferences, social media, and one titled “Starting a Movement” based on your efforts, will help you learn how to throw your whole being into your writing.

courtesy of google images

What’s next on my nightstand?

More time for reading, hopefully! I encourage research developers and grant writers to read, read, read!  Familiarize yourself with the products of the faculty and the clients you serve. Read their papers, look at their websites, attend their seminars, conferences, and art shows. Understanding where clients and faculty are in their own professional development will help research developers understand their faculty’s messaging and communication needs. And when a funding opportunity arises, people will be syncing their clocks with yours.

CLA Research feature in OSU Alumni magazine

The spring issue of the OSU Alumni Association magazine, The Oregon Stater, contains an insert produced by the College of Liberal Arts Communications Director, Celene Carillo.  The Leading Edge features stories about the worldwide reach of CLA activities.

Page 8 highlights the recent growth and goals of the CLA Research office. Page 9 contains brief summaries of specific projects that were made possible by grants.  Alumni can learn about grant funded projects by Lori Cramer and Flaxen Conway, Hilary Boudet, Joseph Krause and Nabil Boudraa, and Jacob Hamblin.

Another summary on page 9 about artists Shelley Jordon and Kerry Skarbakka demonstrates what can happen with internally funded projects. Moreover, Shelley Jordon leveraged this small internal grant and received an additional $6,000 grant from the Oregon Arts Commission (link to OAC announcement). These internal grants make so much possible. Here’s a recent blog post about this internal funding program.

To read The Leading Edge

Click on the above OSU Alumni Association link to learn more about The Oregon Stater, or go straight to The Leading Edge. and be sure to check out pages 8 and 9.  Page 10 features a map to show the worldwide reach of CLA activities.

As stated on the OSU Alumni webpage, “Not all recipients of the print Stater receive these inserts, but they’re available to everyone here in electronic form.”

Two Internal Funding Programs Open

Good news: Two newly revised internal funding programs are open for applications from CLA faculty!

The Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts are starting an exciting new partnership. Together with the CLA Office of the Dean and the Schools in CLA, the partnership is re-launching two internal funding opportunities available to CLA faculty.

1. The Research Awards Program

The first is a newly revised program called the Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts Research Awards program.

The primary intent of the Research Awards program is to advance creative or scholarly activities in the Humanities and the Humanistic Sciences.

Awards are made to tenured, tenure-track and fixed-term faculty members on regular appointments. The standard award is $4,000. In extraordinary circumstances, proposals up to $8,000 may be considered.

If you need summer support to finish a writing project, to develop a survey, or to conduct research, you should submit an application.

Depending on the number of submissions, the program intends to fund around 10 projects.  Last year, 8 projects were funded to faculty from 7 different disciplines, ranging from creative writing to sociology, from art to communication research and psychology. The results of these projects led to journal publications, finalized manuscripts, art shows, research development, grant submissions and additional funding. The Research Award funds make opportunities happen for faculty and their students, and for the college and university.

picture of eyeglasses, watch, and book
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The 2018 proposal submission and project schedule:

  • Solicitation opens Monday, April 2.
  • Solicitation closes Friday, April 27.
  • Proposal review period ends Monday, May 7.
  • Funding decisions announced Monday, May 7.
  • Successful projects begin June 1, 2018.
  • Project report due March 1, 2019.
  • Successful projects completed no later than June 1, 2019.

Contact your school directors or visit the CLA Research Website for the application materials.

2. Publishing Support and Special Travel Grants program

The second, newly revised program is the Center for the Humanities and College of Liberal Arts Faculty Excellence Publishing Support and Special Travel Grant.

These small grants are open for application year round or until the funds are depleted and are intended to offset costs for time-sensitive research and scholarship needs. Click on the above links to learn more about the programs and how to apply.

picture of Italian marina
photo courtesy of CLA

Past Projects

To learn more about past projects for the Research Awards Program and for the Publishing Support and Travel Grants programs,  see recent posts here on the Liberal Arts Research in Action blog: 2016-20172017-2018.  The Publication and Travel programs were new just last year, and it is great to see them both continue.

Whether the Research Awards program or the Publication or Travel Grants, these funds make so much possible for faculty. I am working on a blog entry that details some key metrics.

-EWD

2017-2018 CLA Research Awards

It’s been almost a year since my last post about the 2016 CLA Research Awards Program. I have been meaning to post about the 2017 projects and I am happy to have a chance to write about the opportunities these small grants make, and to let you know about the future of this internal funding program.

What are they?

As stated on the CLA Research website, the awards are primarily intended to assist faculty members in the initiation of new creative or scholarly activities and for projects that will result in further external funding, or improve the position of the faculty member in applying for funding.  Furthermore, the project must culminate in a concrete result (a peer-reviewed journal article submitted for publication, a performance, a professional exhibition, a grant proposal).  And moreover, preference is given to projects that enhance the status and visibility of the College and the University. The program helps highlight the research and scholarship efforts of our fellow faculty members. Because at the end of the day, there’s actually quite a lot of liberal arts research happening here at OSU.

Impacts of the 2016 Awards

The funded projects produced a plethora of publications, data sets, models, conference presentations, and quite a few of them led to additional funding applications and some even received additional funding.  I am working on a list of metrics to share the impacts of these awards, but the short of it is, it is amazing to see the reach of these small grants.

2017 CLA Research Awards

In 2017, we received eleven applications.  After a review by a four-member committee, eight proposals were selected for funding.

School of Arts and Communication

  • Shelley Jordon, $4,000 for support to create a site-specific, installation piece at Fordham University in New York City, called, Still Streaming
  • Joshua Reeves, $4,000 for writing time and research on the use of Military Artificial Intelligence
  • Kerry Skarbakka, $4,000 for support to create art about the socio-political phenomenon of the angry white male
  • Jason Fick, $4,000 for support to create interactive music and software for Baroque flute and computer

School of Psychological Sciences

  • Kathleen Bogart, $4,000 for research on the social and psychological support networks for adults with rare disorders

School of Public Policy

  • Rican Vue, $4,000 for research on how social networks of Southeast Asian-American community college students
  • Ana Spalding, $5,000 for research on the human dimension of fisheries policy in Panama

School of Writing, Literature, and Film

  • Wayne Harrison, $5,000 for support to write his novel in progress Seasons of Doubt

CLA Supplemental Research Fund

Thanks to some careful planning, the CLA Research Program Manager was able to use some of the Research Awards funds to pilot a new program called the CLA Supplemental Research Fund. These funds helped faculty offset the costs for time-sensitive research and scholarship needs.

The Research Program Manager recognized that the need for travel and publication support was often unexpected. Invitations to conferences can come with a great cost, and participation can often lead to opportunities that greatly benefit the individual faculty member as well as the School and College.  Below is the list of faculty who received supplemental funds, as well as a brief description of their activity.

School of Arts and Communication

School of Public Policy

  • Ana Spalding, $1,500 for travel to Kuching, Malaysia to present at the International Marine Congress meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology

School of Language, Culture, and Society

  • Daniel Lopez-Cevallos, $500 for travel to Atlanta, GA to present at the American Public Health Association meeting
  • Melissa Cheyney, $500 for travel between Corvallis and Eugene to the Global Health Biomarker Lab to complete analysis.

I have two more Supplemental Research projects forthcoming, which will use up the last of the remaining funds. I was happy that I was able to stretch these Supplemental Research Funds over the 2018 academic year. And I am happy to report that this program will continue next year.

Exciting Developments for the Award Program

With the onset of spring, the status of the forthcoming 2018-2019 CLA Research Awards program was a bit uncertain.  But I am happy to report that both programs, the Research Awards and the Supplemental Awards programs will both be made available.  Specifics are still being finalized, so stand by for further information.  Check the CLA Research website or contact the CLA Research Program Manager for more information.

Totality exhibition drew thousands

Fairbanks Hall was a-buzz with activity this weekend. 

The weekend before the August 21 eclipse, our usually-sleepy summer campus was bustling with life.  And that Fairbanks Hall, home of the Art Department, was a hub of excitement in the midst of the scientific phenomenon, was inspiring.

Curated by Associate Professor of Photography and New Media Communications Julia Bradshaw, the Totality Exhibition brought together a variety of works by locally and nationally recognized artists.

When Julia first learned of the eclipse, she seized on the idea to show the public how artists contribute to the conversation.

“With this exhibition, and the companion arts activities, I bring together artworks and artists who put us in touch with our human relationship to the Cosmos in some manner.”

Art in-progress

Together with the gallery exhibition, Julia scheduled workshops and performances on photography, print making, and poetry writing for the throngs of eclipse visitors who descended on our sleepy campus.

Eclipse visitors making mono-prints.

Artist events showcased work-in-progress style forums, where visitors watched and learned and practiced art.  Artist events included a performance piece by Kaitlyn Wittig- Mengüç and a poetry writing workshop led by Qwo-Li Driskill.

Eclipse visitors watch a performance art piece unfold.

Visitors watched mural painter Johnny Beaver at work, helped children’s author Eric Wayne Dickey write his next book, and listened to musicians Ryan Biesack and Mike Gamble improvise work inspired by the cosmos.

Mural artist Johnny Beaver talks about his process with visitors.

Julia was certain that the Totality art show would have appeal.

“That the eclipse is happening in our back yard is very special, but everyone’s reasons for viewing it is different. Our relationship to the Cosmos is like that: some are interested in space as a vehicle for fantasy and some are interested in space as a vehicle for scientific exploration.”

And she was right!  Fairbanks Hall saw an estimated 1,000 visitors on Saturday, and approximately 2,000 on Sunday.  It was wonderful to see so many visitors on campus.

Visitors make their own cyanotype sun prints.

A Lasting Effect

The Totality events catered to the young and old, and it added context to a truly extraordinary cosmological event.  I am certain the eclipse itself will leave lasting memories in the millions of people who witnessed it across the country.  I am equally certain that the Totality exhibition and events helped the thousands of visitors to our state and to our campus think about the significance of the eclipse on their daily lives.

I, for one, am still buzzing with inspiration.

Photos by Julia Bradshaw.  To see others, click here.

-EWD

Liberal Arts 2017 funding summary

Prior to my appointment at the beginning of fiscal year 2015, CLA didn’t have a research program manager.  Faculty were on their own when it came to submitting grants.

For my first project, I studied the funding history of CLA and looked at eleven years of data, all the data available to me, from 2004 to 2014.  Over those eleven years, the college averaged 8.7 funded projects per year.  The report can be viewed here.  Slide four shows a table of the data, and slide seven summarizes and averages the data.

What’s the deal?

I am happy to report that for 2017, a whopping 30 projects were funded. That’s a 245% increase! Wow!

I am looking forward to the future and the opportunities for funding for CLA faculty, to whom I say, “Come see me!  I am here to help you succeed.”

Humanities, funding, and James Comey?

The humanities are at the center of the happenings going on in our nation’s capitol. As a grant writer for the College of Liberal Arts, it’s important to recognize.

I visited the National Endowment for the Humanities earlier this year.  My host there commented on the heightened security. She attributed to it the presence of the Federal Trade Commission, and “the lawyers,”  she groaned as she rolled her eyes.

I responded with a, “Oh, I don’t know, isn’t it ‘first kill all the poets?'”

My host smiled and said, “maybe so.”

I don’t know to whom that saying is attributed.  Whether it was poets or lawyers, either way, I was in a building with both.

Despite all the craziness coming out of DC, I was struck by how a recent press briefing focused on the interpretation of a poem.

On my other blog site that I keep for my personal writing, I just wrote a piece about the James Comey testimony and its Chaucerian significance.  The piece itself  bridges my personal and professional interests.

Enjoy.

 

Ecampus Research and Liberal Arts at Oregon State University

My colleague and friend, Dr. Katie Linder, is the Ecampus research director at Oregon State University.   Her work there inspired me to start this blog to help document the research efforts happening in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

Ecampus Fellows Program

One of the many things happening at Ecampus Research is their Fellows program.  It’s been a real benefit to CLA faculty. Past recipients include folks from Psychology, History, and Anthropology.  The fellows program seeks “to support the research, development and scholarship efforts of faculty and/or departments in the area of distance/online education.” It’s a great new program, and I advise my readers here to keep an eye on it.  But their fellows program is not the focus of this blogpost.  I want to bring your attention to Dr. Linder’s podcasts.

Liberal Arts Research and Podcasts?

Her podcasts are of particular relevance to me and my work, and can be a great resource for CLA faculty.  Research in Action is a weekly podcast on topics related to all things research. Such a wealth of information in those podcasts, I often just listen in as I am working.  After all, I seized on the idea of Research in Action and sheepishly stole its namesake for the title of this blog, Liberal Arts Research in Action.  The quote “good poets borrow, better poets steal” is often misattributed to T.S. Eliot, and it hasn’t stopped me yet!

You can find a list of past RIA episodes here.  Many provide insight to issues relevant to Liberal Arts research.

A recent RIA podcast highlights the challenges faced by humanities and text-based research, and explores the work of biblical studies scholar, Dr. Nyasha Junior, an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Highlights from Dr. Junior’s interview:

“It’s difficult to apply for external funding….  I don’t really need things, I don’t need a particle accelerator, or a lab, or… whatever it is that people in science do.  What I need is time and space, and maybe a library assistant to go get me some books.”

Other challenges faced by researchers:

“I’d say finding funding is tough, also communicating what we do to people who are outside of the field.”

Time, space, funding, and communicating are indeed challenges.  Listen to the RIA podcast with Dr. Junior here.  And be sure to listen to the whole podcast; Dr. Junior talks about ways to market your work.

photo courtesy of pixabay.com

What’s the Connection to OSU CLA?

The 60th episode of RIA features an interview with Dr. Christopher McKnight Nichols.  Dr. Nichols is the Director of the Center for the Humanities at OSU.  In this podcast, Dr. Nichols talks about his research, the importance of the humanities, and the Center.

You can listen to the podcast here.  Highlights include:

“… we don’t talk about data, per se, though we clearly have a data set”.

Liberal Arts data doesn’t seem like a thing, but it is.  Often times, Liberal Arts research isn’t valued because it’s not hypothesis driven.  Katie asks a great question very relevant to almost all tracks of humanities research:  “I’m curious to what degree your work, and the different things you’re looking at, is exploratory.”

Dr. Nichols responds with how he had to first come to understand his field of study before he could start asking specific questions.  Research questions, he states, are bound by historical moments.

The Center for the Humanities

“So, one thing that’s important for me as an advocate for the humanities here at this institution is to keep bringing up the amazing work that’s going on here in the humanities.” – Dr. Nichols

Meeting space at Oregon State University’s Center for the Humanities. Photo courtesy of the Center’s website.

Like Dr. Junior, Dr. Nichols acknowledges that time is one of the most important components of developing strong humanities research.  It takes time “to write good humanities work.” And time and space are something that the Center provides.  He then adds that creating institutional infrastructures and a culture of support for humanities work is also vital.

Be sure to listen to the whole episode. There is a bonus clip at the end where Dr. Nichols’ talks about his Carnegie Fellow recognition.

Thanks, Ecampus!

Special thanks to Dr. Katie Linder for running this podcast series and for recognizing the importance of humanities based research. Her efforts of sharing information about her work is inspiring.  She recently welcomed Dr. Mary Ellen Dello Stritto to the Ecampus research team.  Mary Ellen, Katie, and I, together with Susan Emerson, Research Development Associate for the OSU Research Office recently held our first university-wide grant writing workshop.  It was a remarkable success!

What’s next for the LARA blog?

I intend to write a post about my experience at a recent conference where I accessed a wealth of knowledge from other research coordinators.

I have another post forthcoming about the 2017-2018 College of Liberal Arts Research Awards.

Demystifying the NSF Process

Chasing butterflies in the Mountains
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

National Science Foundation Research in the Liberal Arts

Sometimes chasing after grants feels like a frivolous waste of time, especially when proposals go unfunded.  Navigating requests for proposals can be frustrating, and understanding guidelines can be an exercise in futility.  While there may be no magic net, so to speak, understanding the process and following the guidelines to the letter will help.

Dr. Anita Guerrini recently published a piece in the History of Science Society Newsletter about navigating the National Science Foundation (NSF) submission process.  In so doing, she created a valuable resource for understanding NSF from a humanities perspective.

Understanding the Proposal Process

From conceptualizing the project to interpreting the daunting 180 page Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), from writing to revising, and from submitting to the review process, Dr. Guerrini shares her experience and insights.  She writes:

“The Project Description should be as precise as possible about two main things: what you are going to do during the period of your grant, and what the final products of your research will be.”

In 2015, assisted Dr. Guerrini with an NSF submission titled, The Bone Collectors: Life, Death, and Commerce in Early Modern Europe.  The project was “to complete research and begin writing a book on the making and collecting of skeletons and bones in early modern Europe (1500-1830).”  The project has “implications for public policy, anthropology, archaeology, and preservation by museums and collectors of human remains.”  Thanks to careful and advanced planning, the proposal was funded.  The project is still in process and I recently met with her to assist with the project reporting requirement mandated by NSF.

She closes her piece in the History of Science Society Newsletter with some really great advice:

“Funding of all sorts is uncertain in our current political climate. But simply the act of writing a proposal is a very useful exercise—small consolation, to be sure, if you do not get funding. Your program officers work very hard to help applicants with the process, and many times will man (and woman) a table at the HSS annual meeting to talk over proposals. They will also give feedback on preliminary proposals. Take advantage of this, even if your next proposal is months or years away. And don’t give up.”

While following this advice is not a magic net, you will certainly experience the thrill and the rewards of research in action.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll dig up a few bones or even catch a few butterflies.

Thanks to Dr. Guerrini for letting me share this on the LARA blog.

To read the full text:

https://hssonline.org/resources/publications/newsletter/april-2017-newsletter/demystifying-the-nsf-process/

Published in the History of Science Society Newsletter

-EWD