Shepherding a textbook from concept to printed page is difficult for even the most experienced writers. In addition to the time and self-discipline needed to write the text, authors in 2009 frequently must deal with unexpected changes in editors and even publishing houses. Both writer and publisher gamble that their investments will be rewarded with positive reviews and strong sales. A second edition means not only that sales were strong, but also that your peers and students find your work useful and effective.
Psychology professors and students have responded so well to the hands-on approach and direct, conversational style of Dana S. Dunn's The Practical Researcher, a Student Guide to Conducting Psychological Research (first published 1998) that a second edition has been published (Wiley-Blackwell-2010). "I wrote the original book primarily for the way I teach here," explained Dunn. "It's intended for smaller colleges, where students need hands-on information about how to conduct a research project.
"I really strive to make the information understandable and straightforward—the reality is that students don't enjoy reading dry academic prose, and they don't learn from it." The new edition of The Practical Researcher features decision trees at the start of each chapter, additional exercises and research tools, expanded appendices, and a glossary. Most significant, the information has been completely updated with contemporary methods, including the use of the Internet. "Library research has changed completely in the last ten years," said Dunn. "The American Psychological Association did not even have an online database a decade ago."
The book can be used by student researchers in a range of psychological disciplines (clinical, social, animal, and more), and even by researchers in other fields, such as nursing.
Writing for the Classroom
Dunn, director of the Learning in Common Curriculum at Moravian and president-elect of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, is the author of at least ten books, with several others "in the works." He shares insights for others who would like to write for the classroom:
InCommon is Moravian's internal newsletter, produced every two weeks during the academic year by the public relations office.