No-Shame Revise and Resubmit Workshop

Presenters show spreadsheet

This workshop, led by Erin Grinshteyn (Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Professions) and Christine Yeh (CRASE Co-Director and Professor, School of Education), helped participants develop strategies for tackling manuscript revisions by sharing project management tools for tracking manuscripts and how to manage conflicting advice. Workshop facilitators walked participants through revision letter templates and provide tips for tackling the next revision in a no-shame, supportive environment.

Participants felt that the templates and tips were very helpful and that the presenters were very knowledgeable.

Helen Sword: Writing with Pleasure

Participants at Writing with Pleasure

Over twenty faculty participated in this February workshop for academic writers who aspired to bring more “air & light & time & space” into their own writing practice. Helen Sword made an evidence-based case for recuperating pleasure as a legitimate (and indeed crucial) academic emotion. Sword encouraged participants to think about objects, places, and aspects of writing that brings joy to faculty and provided resources to analyze writing style and behavior.

Participants found it helpful to hear about the writing process from a different perspective and reflected on their own writing habits in a new way.

Plan Your Semester


Christine Yeh, Professor in the School of Education, led an interactive workshop where faculty created a specific semester plan to accomplish their research and writing goals. Participants strategized on how to navigate and balance multiple professional and personal goals. During the event, faculty learned about how many tasks actually go into each discrete goal, how to evaluate how much time each task takes, and the benefits of scheduling tasks on the calendar. Yeh also provided different strategies for being accountable for your research.

Participants felt that the workshop was helpful because it was very concrete and hands-on.

For more information about planning your semester, read Christine Yeh’s post Tips for Creating a Semester Plan for Faculty Success in Writing and Research.

Defending Free Speech in Academic Publishing through Copyright and Fair Use

In this blog, scholarly communication librarian Charlotte Roh addresses copyright in publishing contracts for a better understanding of how fair use operates to extend free speech to criticize, comment, and report as one normally would in the course of academic writing.

Photo by LeAnn Meyer of The University of Kansas Libraries

For academics who are new to negotiating book contracts, one of the boilerplate items that you’ll find in the contract, and quite frequently the author guidelines, is a request from the publisher to make sure that you have the right to use other people’s (copyrighted) material in your work when you submit your manuscript. This often includes asking for permission from other authors and sometimes paying the copyright holder.

However, in many instances, asking for permission isn’t necessary. You already have the right to use copyrighted work in your scholarship – it’s built into copyright law itself, which exists, “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and  discoveries.”[1]

This is from the preamble, and note which clause came first in the mind of our founding fathers – to promote the progress of science and useful arts in our new country. Kyle Courtney, the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, notes that copyright law, and the fair use doctrine in particular, works together with the first amendment that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or freedom or press” as a supplement to the Constitution, “to prevent our new government from becoming a tyranny…connected with the fundamental belief that open and informed discussion of current events promotes stability and the general security of the nation.”

I think we can all agree that the ability to report, comment, analyze, and teach is important, and depends on free speech. But it also depends on copyright law, because otherwise we would not be able to use the work of others while doing those very things. For example, Teen Vogue can screen capture and use tweets in order to report on the racism in the movie Ghost In the Shell, and I can screen capture that article from Teen Vogue in order to use it to make that educational point right here.[3]

Where is this ability to use other people’s works written in the law? Why don’t the reporters have to ask permission, or pay someone, as publishers sometimes ask authors to do? Well, it’s written into copyright law itself, and it’s called the fair use doctrine. Title 17, Section 107 of this law states:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

This is the very same law that allows you to use works in the classroom. But hold up! Why are publishers then insistent on getting permissions for work, and why are you told not to make copies of textbooks for classes?

One reason is to mitigate legal risk – nobody wants to get sued, and many publishers operate out of an abundance of caution. But several publishers, such as UC Press, MIT Press, and Duke University Press, actually support fair use. It does behoove you to meet the standards, however, in which case you should go through the four factors of fair use. I often refer people to this handy checklist put out by Columbia University:

To many people, this seems like too much work. It seems easier to ask permission than to have to rationalize what is fair use or not. But proponents of fair use will point to the music industry’s sampling market as an example of “use it or lose it.” Sampling from other musicians, musical quotation if you will, used to be free. But as profit and litigation grew, the market for sampling increased, triggering the fourth factor of fair use, that the use would not cause market harm.

What does this have to do with academics? What proponents of fair use do not want to see happen is something similar in the academic market, where you would have to license and pay for every quotation and excerpt.[4] In fact, scholars, lawyers, and librarians now celebrate Fair Use Week in order to raise awareness so that we don’t lose the right to challenge, criticize, correct, parody, and speak out. I think this is particularly important in this era of alternative facts and fake news, when so much of the research that we depend on seems to be in jeopardy.[5] So use your fair use rights! They’re important to academic freedom of speech.

About the Author:

Charlotte Roh is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of San Francisco Gleeson Library and has over a decade of experience in academic publishing and libraries at the University of Massachusetts, Oxford University Press, and Taylor and Francis. Her most recent publication, “Agents of Diversity and Social Justice: Librarians and Scholarly Communication” won the 2017 LPC Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Library Publishing.

If you’d like to learn more or have any questions about copyright, fair use, or academic publishing, please contact Charlotte Roh at the Gleeson Library croh2(at) See also the CRASE blog on Negotiating Book Contracts.

[1] Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ Preamble (2012)

[2] Courtney, Kyle. “Fair Use Fights Fascism: Some Fair Use Week Thoughts on the 1st Amendment & Fair Use” (February 2017)

[3] Elizabeth, De. “Ghost in the Shell’s Early Review Point Out Whitewashing” (March 2017) Teen Vogue.

[4] Particularly if you don’t have to! Federal publications are free to the public, and some things might be out of copyright, but unscrupulous bodies will still charge for them. Here’s a recent example, from a photographer who donated her work to the public but found that the Getty was charging for her photos:

[5] Schlanger, Zoë. “Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump” WIRED (January 2017)

Making a Five-Year Plan

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales, Assistant Professor in the School of Education, shares details about creating a five-year plan.

winning tenure
“Winning Tenure” lays out a helpful approach towards the pre-tenure years of faculty life.

Earlier this semester, School of Management Associate Professor Michelle Millar and I facilitated a workshop sponsored by CRASE titled “Making a Five-Year Plan: A Workshop for Faculty.” Attended largely by early-career faculty from across campus, the session was intended to demystify the tenure process by breaking the benchmarks towards tenure and promotion down into a series of concrete, specific goals that can be mapped on to a five-year calendar. Our approach is influenced by the work of Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Tracey Laszloffy in their book The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure – Without Losing Your Soul. The book, written for Black faculty specifically and faculty members from underrepresented communities in general, lays out a helpful approach towards the pre-tenure years of faculty life, including the critical importance of developing a five-year plan, for anyone going through the tenure and promotion (T&P) process.

We began by clarifying that, though often talked about as a seven-year process, promotion from assistant to associate professor is actually five years. The seventh year is the sabbatical year, and the sixth year is when one submits the T&P file, which means that work for the T&P file must to be accomplished by the end of the fifth year. Though every faculty member’s tenure file will be judged by a university-wide committee, the expectations of what makes a strong tenure case vary by discipline, field, and school, and therefore the first step before developing one’s five-year plan is to clarify what those expectations are with mentors and senior faculty.

There are several reasons a five-year plan is important, including the tension between tenure being a benchmark that must be achieved on a fixed timeframe and the fact that it is measured with a nebulous set of benchmarks; the reality of the nature of academia and that it is entirely possible to work a 16-hour day attending only to the immediate tasks at hand and never getting to the bigger projects like writing and thinking; and, how the “never enough” culture in academia is not only a recipe for burnout but can also negatively impact productivity. A five-year plan can help mitigate those challenges and even build in time for rest and recuperation.

Below are the four steps we see as the keys to developing a solid five-year plan:

Step One: Articulate SMART goals in each of the following areas: research, teaching, and service.
The first step is to develop goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, & Timely (SMART). So, rather than just writing furiously, you are clear about the specific goals you need to meet over the course of the five years. For example, a goal related to research might be to publish an empirical piece in a top journal in your field based on data you have already collected.

Step Two: Develop a list of tasks to accomplish each goal.
Next, break down each goal into a series of concrete tasks that will help you accomplish the goal—the more specific the better. The publication goal listed above could be broken down into the following tasks: analyze data; develop the article; argument and outline; write a draft of the article; revise article after getting feedback from a colleague; and submit the article.

Step Three: Use the technique of “backward calendering” to time-map each goal and it’s corresponding tasks.
Nothing helps you be realistic about what you can accomplish and how long it will take than pulling out a calendar and mapping it out. Start with the due date and work backwards, mapping out each task on a specific day. If you aim to submit your article on August 15, you’ll need to get feedback from your colleague by August 1, which means you’ll need to get it to her by July 1. To get it to her by July 1, you’ll need a full draft by June 15, develop your argument and outline by May 15, and have your data analyzed by April 15. If you anticipate the data analysis will take you two months, you’ll need to start data analysis by February 15.

Step Four: Map out each year and adjust as necessary.
Though it can feel overwhelming, it is important to backward-calendar each goal. This will help you think through what is really possible, how to stagger different projects, and how to build in the time necessary for each task. It also helps you look at each semester one-at-a-time, and shuffle things around as needed so that you can ensure that you are evenly distributing the work and taking into account how other responsibilities (a heavy fall teaching load) or opportunities (summer off) will increase or decrease your work in a given period.

Lastly, keep in mind that your plan is fluid. It can be adjusted as needed – tasks can be removed or added, and goals can change. That’s okay. However, a five-year plan is worthless if you develop it in a workshop and never look at it again! A five-year plan is lived through semester-long plans, which we recommend drafting at the start of each term. Developing a “Sunday Meeting” is also a helpful tool; whether this is with an accountability group you set up (see the Rockquemore and Laszloffy book for more details on this!) or by yourself. Setting aside time each Sunday to revisit your semester plan, and figure out what you need to do that week in order to stay on track, helps bring your five-year-plan into your everyday life.

Six ways to focus and strategize in your fight against injustices

In this blog, originally posted by the American Counseling Association, professor Christine Yeh identifies and discusses six specific ways to focus and strategize in your fight against injustices.

reject racism protest

Since the inauguration, I have spoken to many colleagues and students who feel overwhelmed by the number of troubling and complicated issues emerging with the new Presidential administration. From the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary to the reinstatement of the Dakota Access Pipeline, there are clearly many injustices that must be fought. I have spent some time thinking about how to prioritize, strategize and focus and wanted to share some thoughts that I have gathered from a variety of sources. My full list is much longer but I will begin with 6 ideas.

Below are Six ways and focus and strategize in your fight against injustices

  1. Limit your news sources
  2. Invest in organizations that have a proven track record
  3. Understand the role of corporations in furthering problematic agendas
  4. Identify outlets to share your voice
  5. Prioritize and focus on specific issues
  6. Establish long and short term goals
Limit your news sources

It is easy to be inundated with real and fake news stories these days and sorting through the onslaught of social media newsfeeds and headlines can be both daunting and time consuming. Try to select a few trusted sources, rather than read everything that comes your way. I subscribe to NPR, New York Times, Huffington Post, and Washington Post and focus primarily on these sources. But I also have several specialized newsfeeds related to immigration rights, public education, the arts, and psychology that I also turn to for more detailed accounts.  I also try to limit my engagement with social media to 2-3 tweets and Facebook posts a day, which allows me to keep informed and still connected with friends, without getting too much information. If you see something on social media that seems especially inflammatory (hard to tell these days), do your fact checking and always verify the information from the original source.

Invest in organizations that have a proven track record

Since we cannot fight all battles, I also believe in donating (in any amount) to several key organizations that have a demonstrated record of collectivizing supporters and using their resources to pursue key initiatives, policies, petitions, and lawsuits that are aligned with social justice efforts. For example, I supported the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuits and petitions which protested the confirmation of Sessions for Attorney General and the proposed Muslim travel ban. I also support the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work for LGBTQ rights, advocacy, and training. Of course, there are many other local and national organizations that are doing important work and many of these are specific to a particular cause.  Do your research and ask around to see which organizations may best support your cause. If you can’t afford to donate right now, there are also many ways to donate time as a volunteer.

Understand the role of corporations in furthering problematic agendas

Many news reports have emerged that have highlighted which companies and businesses support or do not support different issues that directly and indirectly impact the proliferation of injustice. For example, Wells Fargo has been funding the Dakota Access Pipeline construction and the CEO of New Balance has been fund raising for Trump and the Trump family. I found a good list here that is continually updated. Of course many business connections are not so clear cut for some. For example, there are large department stores such as discount store, Ross, that sells the Ivanka Trump clothing line. Does the daughter’s clothing line also get boycotted? For me Trump has already demonstrated that his family businesses are at the core his own branding and success and further his own interests. This is especially problematic given Trump’s Top Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, publicly urged folks to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” so I believe it is important to let retailers know that how and who they profit does matter.

Identify outlets to share your voice

There are many ways to be activist and to make a contribution so spend some time thinking about your strengths and capacities. Some of the most important social movements in history (such as the civil rights movement) have emerged due to our right to share our voices and fight for equity. This can take many forms. For example, signing and sharing petitions can be very effective, especially if you get large organizations (such as unions, universities, cultural organizations, etc.,) to back them. Making phone calls is also a very powerful way to share your perspective with elected officials and only take a few minutes a day. You can also volunteer to be a first responder to immigration raids targeting businesses and homes. I also strongly believe in the power of large protests and marches. For example, the CEO of Uber backed down from the Trump advisory council after just one day of strong protests in San Francisco and a viral #deleteuber campaign. He instead decided to donate 3 million dollars to support drivers impacted by Trump’s efforts to enforce a Muslim travel ban. I recently met a woman who felt very motivated to help but did not know how to use her skills as a busy doctor to further this work. She decided she could host meetings at her house, buy supplies (such as materials) to make signs for protests, support important organizations that are experiencing dramatic cuts federal funding (such as the arts, the environment, and public radio), and bring food to different events. She doesn’t identify as an activist but has found ways to support causes she cares about locally.

Prioritize and focus on specific issues

I know that I don’t have the emotional capacity to fight all the battles I care about but we can focus on the ones that we feel most passionately about while continuing to learn about targeted communities who are most impacted by the new administration. It is also important to consider how to use our unique skill sets as counselors and educators to address injustices as they continue to emerge. I’ve learned to focus on primarily being a scholar activist while also engaging in other forms of activism. Some areas to focus on may include (but are not limited to); conducting research to provide evidence to support your cause, scholarly writing (blog and op-ed pieces that spread the word about an issue), sharing petitions, providing and supporting others, doing trainings for allies, educational workshops, or community organizing. Find colleagues who share your passions and build on each other’s unique skill sets to meaningfully collectivize around an important cause.

Establish short and long term goals

Through all of this, remember to take breaks to care for yourself and those around you. If you have children or work with young people, it is important to meaningfully engage them in this process as well. It is also critical to establish short and long term goals and to continually assess resources around you. As the past month has revealed, it is hard to predict what new issues will emerge each day. Try to stay grounded, balance your personal and professional priorities, and focus on what really matters. Spend some time realistically setting aside time for the work you hope to do and schedule when you will do it. It may sound ridiculous but I created a schedule for myself to insure I do something each day. For example, this may mean reading news reports and engaging in limited social media in the morning, midday and evening. Making 10 minutes of phone calls in the morning to elected officials, using meals or coffee to hold strategy sessions or conference calls with colleagues, and reviewing petitions and scheduled protests or meetings at night. Try to develop long term goals in partnership with targeted communities, organizations, and colleagues. This may include writing a policy brief, developing ideas for op-eds, offering free counseling and support groups, or planning events to support public (versus charter or private) schools.

In all of this work, I have been most inspired when I am working in solidarity with colleagues and friends with a shared vision for equity.

CRASE Negotiating Book Contracts

During the CRASE Negotiating Book Contracts Panel, Monisha Bajaj from the Department of International and Multicultural Education, Keally McBride from the Department of Politics, Dean Rader from the Department of English, and Manuel Vargas from the Department of Philosophy and School of Law shared their experiences developing book proposals, negotiating contracts, and working with different publishers and editors. Collectively, their experience includes academic publications, poetry, edited collections, and textbooks.

negotiating book contracts

When beginning the book proposal process, all panelists emphasized the importance of considering why you want to write a book in the first place. Are you writing the book for tenure or promotion? Are you trying to raise your reputation as a scholar? The prestige of the publication press is important if you are writing for scholarly prestige. As you develop your proposal, be honest and realistic about the audience for the book, and target publishers who have previous experience with your research or topic area. Attending conferences will allow you to  know the press, field, and market, and to find editors. Another strategy shared by our panelists was to look at the acknowledgement section of books you enjoy where you may find names of people who are reputable in the publishing business.  Something to keep in mind is that the timeline for publication with a university press can be significantly longer. One panelist had a book that took 14-18 months and another took approximately 3 years. If you have a shorter timeline, other possible venues for publication include a commercial press or a book series, which can be good for networking and visibility.

As you develop your proposal, consider your audience. The editor who might initially review the proposal might not be a scholar, but for a scholarly book, the proposal will be sent to external reviewers. Your proposal should be targeted to the people who are reading the proposals, and the panelists discussed being courteous and cautious if sending simultaneous proposals because sometimes reviewers work with a few presses and might notice if they see your proposal multiple times.

When a press is interested, there are several elements up for negotiation in your contract including artwork customization, author discounts, number of free copies, timeframe for publication in paperback, copyediting costs, and copyright reversal. One panelists suggested asking the price of your book in your contract. Deciding what to negotiate is usually personal and depends on the book. For example, if accessibility for your students or field practitioners is important to you, having your book in paperback might be something to consider. During negotiations, you can be better positioned for negotiating if you have another publisher interested in your project, but you need to be mindful what you are using your leverage for.

Once your book is published, stay in communication with your press to help with advertising and marketing your book. While the marketing plan will be different for every project, there are things you can do to sell your work, which includes letting your publisher know if you attend conferences so they can make sure to stock your book and coordinate signings. Also, inform your publisher if you are on a panel or if you have articles published. If you publish a textbook, you can pitch your book to professors and department chairs.

At the University of San Francisco, scholarly communications librarian Charlotte Roh provides one-on-one consultations on book contracts and is a resource on scholarly publications. If you would like to see an example of a book proposal, please contact

Tips for Creating a Semester Plan for Faculty Success in Writing and Research

At the CRASE Plan Your Semester workshop, 17 faculty and staff, including several new faculty members, worked on developing a semester-long plan. Below, Professor Christine Yeh summarizes key steps in creating a Semester Plan using materials developed by the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD).

plan your semester

When creating a concrete Semester Plan, the main challenges academics often face include: (1) unstructured time, (2) varied and time consuming commitments, (3) prioritizing, and (4) underestimating the time required for research and writing. Due to these challenges, writing time often gets pushed aside and replaced by smaller but time-consuming tasks such as email requests, committee responsibilities, administrative reports, and student issues. Because we perceive having free time to write, we often allow these duties to take over in the hope of finding time elsewhere in our busy schedules, but it is important to prioritize our scholarship and personal goals.

To make a successful Semester Plan, know what you need and what you need to accomplish. Create a realistic plan to meet all of your needs including personal and professional goals, and build in support, structure, and accountability.

Five steps can help you create and implement a strategic Semester Plan:

  1. Identify your personal and professional goals
  2. Map out the steps and work to accomplish your specific goals
  3. Introduce your projects to your semester calendar and schedule them in
  4. Build in the support and accountability for completing these goals
  5. Work the Semester Plan

Identify Your Goals

People often start the process by identifying their goals and then stop, but it’s important to remember that according to NCFDD, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” When you start to put together a Semester Plan, identify both research/writing goals and personal goals. During the workshop, participants identified three research/writing goals and three personal goals to get the process started.

Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to make them SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, and Time-framed. By reframing goals as SMART goals, they become more concrete and realistic. An example of a personal goal would be to spend time outside, but once transformed as a SMART goal, it may look more like mountain biking once a week on Saturdays from 9-11 am or to try a new 3-hour hike on the first Saturday morning of each month.

Map out the steps and work to accomplish your goal

Working with the SMART goals, you can now write out the steps required to make each goal happen. For example, when developing a book proposal, you may need to draft different sections, create a table of contents, and select a publisher. Break down your goals to individual to-do tasks that you can schedule into your calendar.

Introduce your projects to your semester calendar

Now that you have the steps to accomplish each goal, it’s time to start scheduling them into your calendar. We recommend opening Google Calendar, or the system that works for you, and add each item into your calendar. It’s important to accurately estimate how much time the task will take. Scheduling tasks into your calendar will help you see how busy you are with other commitments such as mid-term grading and travel plans, and you can adjust your timeframe to match the semester.

Build in Support and Accountability

The next step is to make sure you have the support and accountability to make sure you get your tasks completed. Some ideas for support include making plans to write on-site, online writing groups, accountability group check-ins, or a writing buddy/coach.

Work the Plan

Once your strategic plan is complete, schedule a meeting with a mentor, writing friend, or accountability group and share your goals. As you work through your Semester Plan, some tasks may take more time than you estimated, but you can always adjust your timeframe. Understanding how long tasks will take will help when you plan future semesters.

Faculty colleagues who successfully completed their semester plans shared some helpful tips. These include the following:

  1. After entering writing tasks and goals into your calendar, color code them based on the type of writing project.
  2. Assign specific times to each goal so you can best estimate how much time to spend on them.
  3. Share your priority goals with collaborators so they are also on board with your time frame and deadlines.

It is important to be able to adapt and change your Semester Plan should you finish your goals early (or late). The plan is there for structure, accountability, and clarity about your goals, but it is also important to be flexible as you navigate the academic context. Personally, I look at my goals weekly to add and change things as they come up. I also create a plan for each semester to ensure I am prioritizing the important goals in my life.

The CRASE OpEd Project

At the end of Spring 2016 semester, 20 faculty members from each school and college participated in the CRASE OpEd Project where they developed ideas for public scholarship by considering evidence-based arguments that are timely and have public value. During the two day workshop, participants learned about establishing credibility, structures of op-eds, and tips on refining and pitching their ideas.

op-ed project

When writing an op-ed, academics must first understand that their communication goals and style for writing are different than they write for scholarly journals. On the first day, much of the discussion focused on ways of establishing credibility through evidence, being right versus effective, and how to engage in larger conversations. The goal of an op-ed is to speak about your knowledge to a general audience without jargon and get the reader to say, “Tell me more.” Unlike traditional academic writing, it is useful to bring in your personal experience because it connects you to the reader in a way that data can’t.

In the op-ed, there’s a common structure to develop your argument with evidence. Start with a news hook to establish the case for why your op-ed is important now. Common hooks include employing a current event, anniversary, holiday, trend, release of new data, something in popular culture, or highlighting news that should be news. Throughout the op-ed, utilize various types of evidence and anticipate bias from the audience that you want to reach. An important component is to include the technique known as a “To Be Sure,” which addresses potential counter arguments in such a way that it is acknowledged but then persuasively dismissed.  For example, validate the counterargument and trump it with something more urgent or provide a personal caveat. It’s important to create a space to address your opposition with respect and to treat the audience as morally intelligent. In the conclusion, include a call to action that is specific and doable.

Using these ideas, participants developed drafts of their op-eds, and on the second day, they received feedback from their peers. The OpEd Project provides detailed resources on their website including basic op-ed structure, tips for op-ed writing, how to pitch, and submission information for over 100 outlets.

Many of our participants are currently working on their op-eds for submission.  Monisha Bajaj, Associate Professor of Education, published “Community Walks: A Day of Learning for Schools” on Teaching Tolerance. Violet Cheung, Associate Professor of Psychology, was featured on MTV News “The Stakes: Raw Heart Podcast Part 3.” Christina Chong, Assistant Professor of Law, published “Is Hollywood Still an All-White Boys Club?” with the American Bar Association. Lisa de la Rue, Assistant Professor of Education, published the op-ed “Teen in police scandal is a victim, not a ‘sex worker’” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Professor of Law Alice Kaswan published “As court weighs clean power plan, rule’s approach could reduce carbon emissions, improve public health” on The Hill. Assistant Professor of Education, Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales published “Democracy for Some, Not for All” on the Huffington Post. James Zarsadiaz, Assistant Professor of History, published “Why candidates should court Asian American voters” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Assistant Professor Desiree Zequera published “More than Nuance: Recognizing and Serving the Diversity of the Latina/o Community” on EdExcelencia Hispanic-Serving Institutions .

Four Steps for Writing about your Teaching Innovation

Violet Cheung, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, outlines four steps that helped her to turn a teaching innovation into a publication.

Violet Cheung

Too often we think of teaching and research as two separate endeavors – the former is our job and the latter a creative outlet. A paradigm shift for me was the phrase “teaching innovation” and the realization that you are innovating when you develop a unique course or improve an existing course. We are accustomed to sharing our research in journals, but we often don’t think of writing about our teaching in journals. Major innovations should not be hidden but shared with peers. As Saera Khan writes in her blog post “Strategies for Turning your Teaching into Publication,” there are many journals that may be interested in publishing your innovations in teaching. This paradigm shift has proven personally fulfilling to me and my coauthor and has expanded my perspective on scholarship.

While I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the long process involved in publishing our teaching innovation, it was easier once I saw how to breakdown the process. An important part entailed making ideas explicit–first verbally and then in print. Below I outline four steps to write about your teaching innovation:

1. Adopt a problem-solution framework to articulate your innovation

If it is hard to think of yourself as an innovator, then trying thinking of yourself as a problem-solver. Chances are that the unique student population, the unique course materials, or the unique class size has presented challenges to you in your teaching. As a dedicated educator, you adapt your teaching to address many of these challenges. Little by little, semester by semester, you have drifted far away from the traditional delivery of the course, and now you may have an innovation in your hand. Ask yourself “What problem did I try to solve?” and “What is my solution?” Turn your answers into a short elevator speech so that you can succinctly describe the problem-solution pair.

2. Ask colleagues to affirm the value of your innovation

Share your elevator speech with a colleague in your department and/or with a colleague at a different institution to see if there is interest and an audience for your innovation. Watch their reactions. If they say, “I don’t see how your method is different” or “I see why it works at your institution but nowhere else” then you will need to continue to adapt. If the reactions are more positive, such as, “Can I try using your teaching method in my class?” or “Why didn’t I think of it?” then you know this may be an important contribution.

If you received positive feedback, then listen carefully to the comments from your future readers because they may be able to articulate the benefits of your innovation better than you can. There are two reasons for this. First, they have the buyer’s point of view whereas you have the seller’s point of view. Guess which is more appealing to journal editors? Second, your colleagues can tell you the first benefit that comes to mind whereas you may be thinking of multiple benefits. Sometimes it is not possible to write about all of them because each comes with its own set of literature, and your colleague’s opinion becomes important when you have to focus on one benefit.

3. Document the efficacy of your innovation

As you search for appropriate journals, it may make sense to look for the journal’s typical data reporting style. For example, in psychology and other social sciences, data collection methods may fall along the lines of quantitative vs. qualitative, subjective data vs. objective data, comparison between class sections of different instruction styles vs. comparison of the same class section from the start to the end of the semester. Understanding the journal’s expectations for data reporting will help you determine how much you’ll need to document the effectiveness/efficacy of your innovation.

4. Familiarize yourself with the teaching literature in your field

As you investigate different journal outlets, tag relevant articles and read them. At first, It may seem an arduous task to learn the jargons and major divisions in the literature, but this is important because you want to make sure you cite the relevant literature and frame the context for your teaching innovation. If you want to write about teaching in your field, it is your responsibility to know what has been published previously and situate your innovation within the existing literature.

While I worked through this process, I came to appreciate the connection between my teaching and research, and I have been able to participate in meaningful conversations with my colleagues about teaching innovations and how to get started in the publication process. Publishing your innovative teaching methods can be a valuable way to bring together your research and your teaching.