147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars: From Publishing to Time Management, Grant Seeking, and Beyond
Kathleen King and Ann Cranston-Gingras
Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing, 2014 (132 pages, ISBN 978-1891859892, $12.50)
The authors of 147 Practical Tips for Emerging Scholars describe their work as offering much “to initiate or advance your success as a scholar, and nothing to lose as you invest a short time to read it” (22). This is a bold claim for a slender volume. However, this clear, honest, unpretentious work lives up to that promise. Authors Kathleen King and Ann Cranston-Gingras identify a key problem with the structure of academia: Those who seek to engage with it too often find themselves without guidance: the professional lives of doctoral faculty, new faculty, and experienced faculty (the three groups the book addresses) are often unsupervised and lack critical guidance for developing and establishing professional reputations, maintaining schedules, pursuing tenure, and avoiding mistakes.
Guidance for making good professional decisions is what 147 Practical Tips seeks to provide. The key word which characterizes these tips is “practical”; the tips range from advice about scheduling to reminders to spell-check all correspondence. Some of the tips are about personal development; the authors focus not just on writing, but writing well, learning to vary styles and approaches. Others concern etiquette, with the dos and don’ts of collaborating with peers and contacting publication editors. The final section encourages scholars to apply this knowledge in the service of other emerging scholars, becoming the mentors to students and colleagues we wish we had had. Throughout, there is the acknowledgment that not all of the tips are relevant to all persons at all times; instead, King and Cranston-Gingras intend this to be a re-read resource, to be returned to as often as necessary.
Though both authors work in education departments, the tips are meant to be applicable across disciplines – which is one of the book’s unfortunate weaknesses, as most tips are by necessity wholly unspecific. In addition, the section on technology already feels a touch outdated, as though it were targeted to an older audience, one which could use reminders that Dropbox can facilitate collaboration and all-caps text reads like shouting.
For a short, cross-discipline guidebook, however, this book provides a significant amount of helpful hints and general guidance. Even in its limited scope, it encourages readers to take the extra steps they need to learn about publications, trends, and significant works inside their own disciplines, and then to apply the information here as necessary. The advice is often simple but rarely simplistic; even the most basic suggestions are good reminders of things too easy to forget in what can be chaotic pursuits. An emerging scholar myself, I would recommend this book to others on the path to establishing academic careers, and I expect to find myself opening it again.
University of Houston