Book Reviews

Book by: Tonette S. Rocco and Tim Hatcher
Review by: Craig M. McGill, M.M., M.S.
Academic Advisor, Department of English
Florida International University


NACADA president Joshua Smith (2013) has made his position about the role of research in the field of academic advising known. As part of his call to keep “Academic Advising in the Forefront of Conversations in Higher Education” Smith encouraged scholar-practitioner-presenters to resist the urge of handing out PowerPoint slides and instead, to write a paper for attendees “to expand their knowledge of the philosophy, theory, and practice” of the topic. Such a commitment to research is critical “if we are to confidently declare, as I do, that academic advising is a field of study” (par. 3). I use President Smith’s call to highlight how very important research is if we are to expand our body of literature. 

A common misperception that plagues any practitioner-oriented field is that one should possess a doctorate and have extensive experience in order to conduct research. For many, the prospect of doing research is an incredibly daunting task, and even willing participants may not know where to begin. Rocco and Hatcher have assembled a terrific, comprehensive guide that covers everything from conceptual ideas about scholarly writing to working through writing problems and improving techniques. In her introductory chapter, Rocco notes, “Many people have something to contribute to the knowledge base, professional practice, or some insight others would benefit from knowing. Knowledge is lost because potential authors do not know how to join the conversation, do not know the rules for writing, and may be intimidated by the process” (p. 5, emphasis mine). Although lost knowledge is unfavorable for any profession, it is especially unfortunate for professions that are still working toward an identity. All advisors and advising administrators should be forming questions and gathering data based on problems found in practice (Smith, 2013). In his chapter on doctoral students turning their gradate work into publishable manuscripts, Normore reminds us, “a growing profession depends on an ever-increasing knowledge base to form the basis of practice. Knowledge base in any discipline will advance only if theory is continuously updated, extended, and refined” (p. 77).

The goal of this book is to demystify the research and publication process for those practitioners who have much to offer the field, but who do not know where to begin. In section one, becoming a published scholar, the contributors offer reasons to publish, tips and strategies for working with both peer-reviewed and nonrefereed journals, and how working graduate students should model their course term papers into publishable manuscripts. Part two explores writing techniques such as the formulation of a research problem and the importance of a good purpose statement, which often fails to encompass the comprehensive nature of an issue and convince the reader of the importance of the implications. Thus, many manuscripts are left meandering and as a result, do not reach audiences who can benefit from the ideas. In section three, the contributors provide chapters focused specifically on increasing the odds of a manuscripts getting published. In the final section, there are reflections on the publication process itself: topics such as addressing feedback from the reviewers to working with coauthors and mentors. In short, the chapters are very specific and writers can read them in any order. 

Whether writing a chapter for a book, preparing a presentation for the annual conference, giving a brownbag talk to colleagues or writing for one of NACADA’s writing venues, this volume has much to offer scholars at any level or any stage of the writing process (A chapter on writing editorials and book reviews even provided fodder for this review!) Although the many contributors of this book have accrued extensive writing and research experience, they write in a manner that is utterly comprehensible for the novice scholar. But, through the many different insights of a process that is eminently complex, I would venture to guess that it has plenty to offer the seasoned scholar as well. 

This volume, coupled with the monograph on scholarly writing in advising (Hagen, Kuhn & Pakak, 2010) is a great asset for the advising scholar-practitioner. Because advising has not yet amassed a sufficient disciplinary base of research, some scholars argue that the field has not satisfied the criteria to be called a profession (Shaffer, Zalewski, and Leveille, 2010). It is therefore incumbent upon us working in the field to ask important probing questions about our practices, stay up to date on the literature in our field, and document what is and is not working in our practice. As Smith (2013) says, “some of the leading scholars in academic advising have called for the development of a robust body of literature to validate advising as a field of study, discipline, and profession. The only way to grow that body of work is for us to do it.” Let this volume be your guide.

References: 

Hagen, P.L., Kuhn, T.L., & Pakak, G.M. (2010). Scholarly inquiry in academic advising. Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.

Shaffer, L. S., Zalewski, J. M., & Leveille, J. (2010). The Professionalization of academic advising: Where are we in 2010? NACADA Journal, 30(1), 66-77.

Smith, J. (2013, March). From the president: Keeping academic advising in the forefront of conversations in higher education. Academic Advising Today, 36(1). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-President-Keeping-Academic-Advising-in-the-Forefront-of-Conversations-in-Higher-Education.aspx



The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing (2011) Book by: Tonette S. Rocco and Tim Hatcher. Review by: Craig M. McGill, M.M., M.S. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. pp. 368. $35.00 ISBN #: 978-0-470-39335-2

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