10 steps: from dissertation to book contract

Part 1 in the series. So you want to publish your dissertation as a book. Here are 10 steps to getting that done. I encourage others to add more in the comments.

Step 1: Have a decent chunk of work ready to distribute

In general, the book needs to be pretty much written before you can get a contract. Not always. But for your dissertation book, certainly. So have some chapters written which are book chapters, not dissertation chapters. Preferably all of it. You have to be ready to circulate this material upon request. It’s not a great idea to put in a proposal without work ready to go. By “book chapters not dissertation chapters” I mean text that reads like a book reads. In general dissertation chapters have specific puzzles that are set up, rather heavily, by literature reviews. And usually books don’t look like this. They tend to have much of the set up happen in an introduction, and literature is less “reviewed” than it is used as specific puzzles are taken up. Or perhaps better, unlike dissertation chapters which often read like “here is the literature… now here is me,” books are often utterly more self-indulgent. “Here is me, and here is some literature that relates to me.” This is obviously a broad generalization. But a good way to discover this is to find two people who came out of your department (or any department!) whose books you like. Get the dissertation it’s based off. And compare. The differences should be pretty clear. As a second point: it’s always good to have a model to work off. So pick a book you like (preferably a dissertation book), and think through how the person made it a book. It can be a great guide. Continue reading “10 steps: from dissertation to book contract”

the contraception mandate and path dependency

There’s much conversation about the so-called conscience issues with the contraception “mandate” under the new health care reform act. The Immanent Frame carries a useful set of statements by scholars on the topic. Kevin Schultz is of course correct that the whole matter is trumped up for election-year politics. Essentially they’ve carved out whole new territory for rights of “conscience”: a right to have one’s money “marked” such that it can’t be used for things one doesn’t believe in, even once that money is committed to nonreligious purposes. This idea validates one of Viviana Zelizer’s theses that the infinitely-fungible character of money fails to protect it from being invested with myriad meanings and distinctions.

The thing I haven’t heard mentioned is that the only reason this is an issue is because of the bizarre, path-dependency-created fact that most health insurance in the United States is purchased by employers. In the context of a national health care program, employers wouldn’t be in the business of purchasing their employees’ health care, so there would be no issue about “conscience.” There is no objection on the part of the Bishops to using public roads to allow people to drive to purchase contraceptives, nor public police and fire to protect the establishments that sell them.

delete your google browsing history while you still can.

The Daily Mail and Digital Journal offer step-by-step instructions (and the rationale) for deleting your history before March 1st. For those of you who haven’t seen it floating around Facebook (ht: Jenn, among others), here’s how you do it:

Continue reading “delete your google browsing history while you still can.”

will we see a post-campus america?

Last week, Megan McArdle envisioned a “post-campus America“. Not an unreasonable vision given the advantages of online schools and rising tuition. The larger context of her comments comes from the fact that MIT now offers online certifications. She comes up with 12 specific claims of events she believes will transpire in the context of increased productivity of higher education. Overall, I think that she identifies appropriate questions but I think that she comes to the wrong conclusion about some. She also assumes colleges and universities to be monolithic rather than substantially varied, which carries important implications for some of her conclusions. I address each below (claims directly quoted) and am interested in what others think.
Continue reading “will we see a post-campus america?”

irbs, mission creep, and prior restraint

I am beginning a new thread here to avoid threadjacking the other conversation going on about the relationship between COI and IRBs.

Fabio writes:

How far do we let IRBs go before we actively resist? If the IRB decided they needed to see my medical records, should I just give it to them?


IRBs were initially designed to manage risk related medical research. Now they try to govern social science research as well (which is ok in my view). But they also find it fit to judge whether something is real science, whether people can be paid by researchers, and all sorts of other activities. …. The institution of the IRB has grown enormously in ways that were not anticipated by anyone.

Continue reading “irbs, mission creep, and prior restraint”

the shrinking irb-irs gap

Northwestern faculty just received an e-mail about changes to our IRB system that included:

The IRB must be informed of all income from seminars, lectures, teaching engagements, service on advisory committees or review panels sponsored by for-profit, public, or nonprofit entities other than NU. Formerly, the IRB only asked for income that came from the study sponsor or an outside entity whose interests would reasonably appear to be affected by the research.

If I’m reading this correctly, if you give a talk at such-and-such and get an honararium, or you serve on a grant panel and get the small recompense that comes along with that, you need to report all this to IRB, at least if you do work that includes human subjects. Is this the rule at other places?

getting into asa

As I mentioned, I did an analysis of ASA submissions and sessions for 2006-9. This is “regular” sessions only, not section sessions. The data source is a handout given to program committee members to help them see the patterns and plan future ASA meetings. It is not “official” data that is carefully cleaned, and contains some possible errors. After a little bit of backstage brouhaha about whether it is appropriate to share this data and some re-analysis in light of our exchanges, here are some graphs that leave out the topic areas. I may “publish” the findings with the areas named in a later post. There are some important findings:

Continue reading “getting into asa”

book contracts, take 1

So, a few people asked me to write about getting and negotiating a book contract. I hesitate in part because others have more experience than I do in this field. But still, I think there’s a lot of what I would think of as misinformation out there about “the contract” and so I thought I would start a discussion about the phases of the process: thinking about getting a contact, getting a contract, negotiating it, and what the contract basically means. Not for the job market. But just in general. I’ve gone through this three times: for my dissertation book, my next book, and a book that is more textbook-y. And I’ve learned a lot. Next time I’ll write about the dissertation book, and the following time about my second book. But this time, I just have one single piece of advice that changed my life. Joining the Author’s Guild. You can only do this if you’re already published a book. But once you have, you can apply to join, and as I understand it, most folks are accepted. Now, here’s the great thing about joining: free legal advice. So you pay $85/year. And every year you are entitled to having one of the lawyers at the Author’s Guild review a book contract that you’re negotiating. For me, this advice was invaluable. So first post is for already published folks: join the guild. Trust me. It’s the cheapest legal advice you can get from people who really know publishing. They mostly deal with trade books, but they know about academic publishing too.

professors unplugged.

I just received my invitation to participate in the 4th Annual “Professors Unplugged.” While it sounds to me like it’s an evening of professors who have gone off the deep end, it’s also actually a talent show hosted by the College of First Year Studies – a forum for faculty to “showcase their talents that are not usually seen by students.” The email suggests “singing, poetry or short story reading, dancing, and the like.”

If I sign up, I promise to tell you what I choose to showcase. In the meantime, what’s your hidden talent?

every rose has its thorn

I know yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so this post might seem a bit late. But it’s Susan B. Anthony Day, which is as good a day as any to turn to the thorny relationship between women, love, and education.

This past weekend, Stephanie Coontz wrote an encouraging opinion piece in the NY Times that asserts that “for a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.” She cites the decline in the “success” penalty for educated women, asserting that men are more interested in women who are intelligent and educated than in the past.* Marriage rates are similar, and divorce rates lower for educated women. In fact, “by age 30, and especially at ages 35 and 40, college-educated women are significantly more likely to be married than any other group.” As if this wasn’t enough, Coontz cites other benefits for educated women: better physical and mental health, satisfying relationships, less housework, and steamier sex. Like usual, she makes a great (and entertaining) argument and her sources – including a number of sociologists – are sound. However, I’d like to suggest that things aren’t as rosy as they seem, particularly for women with (or pursuing) a Ph.D. Continue reading “every rose has its thorn”

bageant, rainbow pie

I very much appreciated Joe Bageant‘s previous book, Deer Hunting With Jesus, so eagerly looked forward to reading Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. Bageant, who died last year, was a political and social commentator whose overall goal in both books was to explain the political and social effects of white working class despair. Deer Hunting was set in Bageant’s hometown of Winchester, Virginia, and followed people there as they sought to cling to dignity in the face of economic desparation.

Continue reading “bageant, rainbow pie”

fallacies of a market approach to public higher ed

In the wake of big debates about rising tuition, North Carolina’s trusty right-wing blog carries a snide analysis of the rising cost of tuition. The gist:

the market for a college education is highly distorted by government subsidies to the schools, direct student aid, and cheap government loans. These factors artificially inflate demand, and create a sizable wedge between what the consumers (students) pay for the product and the income taken in by the producers of that product (the universities). The inevitable result is skyrocketing prices completely out of line with true consumer demand.

Continue reading “fallacies of a market approach to public higher ed”