Academic Writer’s Blog

Posted in Academic Writing

Even President Obama’s Writing Goes Through Peer Review

For all those writers who grumble about the peer review process for publication in academic journals, it might ease the pain a bit to know that even President Obama has had to go through the process. Today’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education featured an interview by Arielle Martinez with Howard C. Bauchner, editor in chief of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), about publishing President Obama’s article titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps.”

In addition to describing how the editors at JAMA ensured that the President’s article met the journal’s content requirements, Bauchner revealed:

I needed to remind them of what our process of editorial review was and that there’s copy editing that goes on with every author, and there certainly would be editing that would go on with this author.

This paper was handled much like all other special communications. It underwent peer review with critiques and criticisms and was sent back to the president requesting changes, very specific and very general changes in the document. Our peer review is confidential, so I don’t want to detail what those requests were.

On the other hand, the President did get a couple of special courtesies. He was permitted to share vignettes and to write in the first person 🙂

Martinez, A. (2016, July 13). When the President of the United States writes an article in your journal. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Posted in Creativity, Humor, Inspiration

Mo Willems on Ideas

Here is something to ponder while you are waiting to “get” an idea for your next writing project…

I think that a mistake that people make is they think ideas are things that you get, like shoes. And they’re not. They’re not shoes. They’re plants. Ideas are things that you grow,” Willems said. “And every day you go back, and you take your sketch book, and you’re planting a little seed, and some of them just don’t grow at all. And every now and then, one of those seeds slowly, slowly grows up and becomes a beautiful tree that bears fruit that you can cut down and burn for profit. Right?”

Mo Willems on the art that enlivens his best-selling children’s books. (2016, June 18). CBS News. Retrieved from

Posted in Academic Writing, Writing Guides, Writing Tips

Free Guide to Summer Writing Success

For academics, the summer “break” is here! For some, that means it is writing season; for others, it is time to regroup, plan, and prepare. And just in time, The Chronicle of Higher Education is offering a guide to help you make the most of your summer break. The booklet, entitled The Academic’s Guide to a Successful Summer, includes the following chapters:

How New Graduate Students Should Spend Their Summers

It’s a Good Time to Get a Head Start on the Fall Job Market

The Professor Is in: I Know What You Need to Do This Summer

Planning a Productive Few Months

Summer Survival Strategies for Adjuncts

Designing A Realistic Writing Schedule

Summer Prep for New Teachers

What We Did on Our ‘Break’

On the Pleasures (and Utility) of Summer Reading

You can download the booklet free by going to Vitae at The Chronicle and signing in. Enjoy!


Posted in Academic Writing

The Writing Project Pipeline

The realities of the academic publishing process demand that academic writers become adept at managing multiple writing projects at the same time, constantly developing new ideas and shepherding each of them along the path to publication. Erin Marie Furtak (2016) offered practical tips and strategies for managing this process in an article that appeared yesterday in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  She identified 11 stations along an imaginary pipeline that a writer can use to track his or her progress, along with suggestions for how to keep projects moving forward to the next station. I have captured her 11 stations in this graphic:


What I especially like in Furtak’s suggestions is her focus on making progress (or lack thereof) both visible and tangible by moving markers that represent each project  (e.g., magnets, post-it notes) along a visual representation of the 11 stations. I have found that moving writers out of their screens and into embodied, physical play with ideas can be immensely helpful in fighting writer’s block and other barriers to productivity. The tangible nature of locating writing projects along a pipeline like this can also flag for the writer where he or she tends to get stuck, which could indicate where the assistance of a writing coach is needed.

Furtak, E.M. (2016, June 6). My writing productivity pipeline. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from