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Writing and revising I: Write to withstand scrutiny from an audience that cares

I find working at home every single day, all day, staying with my Mom, in my childhood room’s home office, and not teaching this semester, extraordinarily weird. COVID-19 (“the coronavirus”) is keeping me and millions of other people in Mexico and around the world locked inside our houses to avoid contagion and break the chain of viral transmission. In my case, after months of battling psoriasis-dermatitis-eczema, this also means that I have had the mindset, time, books, articles, notes, and computer equipment to write.


Library Cubicles at El Colegio de Mexico

I feel like I have been having writing breakthroughs and I feel incredibly happy.

I also have this feeling that I have been gaining new insights into academic writing. One of the most valuable, I think and that I would like to share with my readers and Twitter/Facebook followers is to find our own voicet we should be ready and looking to write for an audience that cares, and write with enough confidence, evidence, and argumentation, that our writing can withstand scrutiny. But not only critical examination from Reviewer 2, but also, from audiences that are friendly and care about us and our development.

Writing while in Berlin

On a regular basis, I ask fellow scholars to scrutinize my work, and provide me with feedback.

I VERY, VERY, VERY carefully choose the people I ask for advice. If I wanted to be emotionally obliterated by Reviewer 2 on a regular basis, I would. I don’t. I like receiving eedback from people who are super smart, but also who will be kind and generous and take care of not trying to make me feel like I’m stupid. I have many people in that particular posse, and I ask them depending on the topic. For example, on global environmental politics…

I mentioned above the Twitter IDs of a few scholars (of the many I that I am lucky to be able to ask!) that I have requested feedback from. Here, I included some in the water and waste fields. Again, these are scholars whose research I love and admire, and who respect my work and care about me enough to provide gentle, caring and meaningful yet critical feedback:

I find this to be both the best component of academia (having someone who will read your work with a critical eye and genuine care) and at the same time, the hardest. For newcomers into academia, students, early career scholars, it is hard to build a network. It has taken decades for me to build mine.

My #AcWri process integrating reading CSED

Finding a trible, a posse, is the challenge of modern academia, I believe. Encountering and engaging THOSE PEOPLE. Those individuals who will generously provide you with rigorous, challenging but nurturing feedback. Ideally, you should be surrounded by dozens of them, but I know this is just in an ideal world.

I am grateful that I do have my people. I can basically ask many scholars for advice, knowing that they will read my work carefully, offer constructive advice, call my bullshit if they see it, and challenge my evidence, assumptions and argument. Obviously I am more than happy to do this for them as well.

Folks are willing to engage with your work generously (generally speaking).

This is very important if we are to transform academia from within.

Let’s do this.

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