The Process of Research Writing: The Web Site

Over this weekend, I had and/or created some time away from grading, a sort of calm before the storm. Among other things, I finally got around to putting up on the web my failed (?) textbook project, retitled what I had originally called it, The Process of Research Writing.

As I wrote back in July and in other entries here, I decided that I was not interested in trying to restart the textbook project with another publisher mainly because I was not at all interested in going down the path of reworking this book yet again. Thus this web site.

This is not a collaborative/wiki-like textbook, mainly because it would have been too time-consuming and complicated to do. I mean, this is a 200+ page manuscript. I don’t think I would describe this an “open source” textbook either, though it is free. But maybe that’s debatable.

Anyway, I for some reason felt the need to get this thing out there/get the monkey off my back so that I could then go on to other things. This might be a simple mental thing only for me, but I also like to think that there are at least some folks out there who might find some parts of this project useful.

5 thoughts on “The Process of Research Writing: The Web Site”

  1. Dear Steven Krause,

    My wife, Vicki Tolar Burton, is a composition and rhetoric professor in the English Department and the administrator of our Writing Across the Curriculum Program (called WIC, Writing Intensive Curriculum) and she got ahold of your online text.

    Your experience has been repeated by others, of course. I have done ok with textbook writing, but at some point, I saw how much students had to pay for texts and realized that I was not paid enough to cheat the students at this rate.

    It also occurred to me that the idea of text books costing so much when the basic information is free to all is nonsense. The three or so remaining publishing companies, all that are left after mergers/takeovers, keep the supply low by rejecting, or harassing texts that are sent to them, unless the author is lucky enough to find a niche that will grow and is otherwise uncovered. My guess is that a fairly substantial percentage of the professors that have a taught a course over a decade or so, have thought about the course and are half way toward a textbook. The process of publishing is daunting, and the publisher adds little value, outsourcing most of the art, style, etc. Sometimes the author is expected to get permissions, etc.

    So, I am trying to start a general movement of like-minded people to put their texts online, and then trying to find a way to increase their production value so they could be printed locally.

    We also expect these to be eventually better than texts. They could still be printed as a book, or in chapters. But online, there are technological enhancements that could make things clearer for students that need a reminder about a concept or an example of the concept being discussed.

    My students and I are working on a Linear Algebra text to do put online for free. I am also using it pedagogically because I encourage complaints about the texts and then assign them projects to do a better job writing a portion of it.

    I am looking for funding agencies, or ways to support this as a self-perpetuating system across the disciplines.

    This is rather long, but I need to tell you how much I applaud your thinking and actions, and hope and expect others to follow.


    Bob Burton
    Department of Mathematics,
    & Faculty of Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Oregon State University
    Corvallis, Oregon

  2. Steven,

    Thank you for doing this! I, too, have a “failed” textbook project, which I want to make available online, but lack the time to do so. Perhaps your project will give me that extra push to get it done.


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