Finals are finished, students are gone, and at long last peace pervades the campus. Many a science professor is entertaining the notion that now is the perfect time to write a textbook. They know the material well, the professors reason, so it shouldn't take long, and having a text under their belts might even provide a boost up the promotion and tenure ladders.

If you are having such thoughts, think again, many textbook authors advise. For one thing, they say, writing a textbook takes years, not months. And for another, it probably will not help your career--in fact, in many cases, writing a text can actually hurt those on the tenure track.

Nonetheless, academic scientists keep on doing it. For some prolific professors, writing a text is simply the next step in the evolution of a terrific set of lecture notes. Others see text writing as a highly stimulating challenge...

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