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Interview with Frank H. Silverman, Ph.D., Author & Professor, Marquette University

August 18, 2003

SP/Beck: Hi Dr. Silverman. It is an honor to meet you. I have read quite a few of your textbooks over the years. You are an amazingly prolific author.Silverman: Thanks Dr. Beck. It's a pleasure to meet you too. SP/Beck:I guess we might as well start at the beginning. Please tell me, when and where d
SP/Beck: Hi Dr. Silverman. It is an honor to meet you. I have read quite a few of your textbooks over the years. You are an amazingly prolific author.

Silverman: Thanks Dr. Beck. It's a pleasure to meet you too.

SP/Beck:I guess we might as well start at the beginning. Please tell me, when and where did you get your doctorate?

Silverman: I got my doctorate at the University of Iowa in 1966.

SP/Beck:What was your dissertation on?

Silverman: It was on stuttering. While I was completing my doctorate, I was employed as a research associate in the stuttering research program at the university, so it was very comprehensive!

SP/Beck:After you completed your doctorate, where did you work?

Silverman: After receiving my doctorate, I worked as a research associate at the University of Iowa, and then I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was there for three years as an assistant professor, I guess that was approximately September 1968 through about August 1971.

SP/Beck:And after Champaign-Urbana, where did you go?

Silverman: I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I went there in September of 1971 and I've been there ever since.

SP/Beck:What year did you publish your first book?

Silverman:The first one I published was in 1977. It was the first statistics and research design book for speech-language pathology and audiology.

SP/Beck:And that must have been just about the time the ANOVA analysis was pretty popular?

Silverman:Yes it was. I noticed back in about 1972 or 1973 that there was no such thing as a research design textbook for our professions, and that's why I went ahead and wrote that first book.

SP/Beck:What were the primary statistical tools you were advocating?

Silverman: I was talking about analysis of variance, T-tests, and other basic statistical analysis. But what I was actually doing was introducing the students to the concepts of research. For example, we went from how does one go about deciding what to research, how does one formulate relevant questions and ''answerable'' questions for research, and then just going step-by-step through the research process. A lot of people who wrote research design statistics textbooks emphasized statistics. In my case, the emphasis was on the process.

SP/Beck:And then somewhere between that first book, and recently ''Essentials of Speech Language and Hearing Disorders,'' you wrote a few other books too?

Silverman: Yes, between the first and the last I wrote about 25 books. In fact, in augmentative communication, I authored the first textbook, I think that was in 1980. It was published by Prentice Hall and was called ''Communication for the Speechless.''

SP/Beck:And now once again, you're pioneering in publishing because ''Essentials'' is available online, which is still a bit of a novelty in academic circles. How did that come about?

Silverman: Yes, that's a little out of the ordinary. I had been very involved with the Text and Academic Authors Association, and served as president of the association. And like most associations we had annual conventions. There was a chap involved with a different publishing house, and he was at the convention by himself. I saw that he had nobody to go out with for lunch so I asked him to go with me for lunch, and we did. He seemed like an interesting guy. Several years later he became involved with Atomic Dog and he remembered and got in touch with me, and indicated that Atomic Dog was going in a very different kind of direction.

SP/Beck:And Atomic Dog is a publishing house?

Silverman:Yes, it's a publishing house - but they're unique in that they're doing textbooks online. Well, he asked me was there a possible book which they might consider publishing? As I thought about it I realized that an introductory book for speech language pathology and audiology courses would be an interesting topic for a book online. I put together a proposal, which is the usual way books start, and even though they originally weren't planning to get involved in audiology or speech pathology, it intrigued them and they decided to go ahead.

SP/Beck: And it just came out this year, 2003?

Silverman:Yes, it did. I began working on that, actually at the end of 2001, and it became available in 2003. I learned it was far more work writing an online textbook than it ever would have been doing a regular print one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm glad I did it.

SP/Beck:How is the book doing online?

Silverman:So far it's doing pretty good. What they do is, students pay $18.95 for the online version, and then if they pay $14 more, they also get it in paperback form.

SP/Beck:That's really quite a good deal.

Silverman:Yes, but the two versions are different. The version that's online has a great deal of interactivity in it; including animations and audio clips. The printed book contains text only.

SP/Beck:And another thing with an online text is the students can have it immediately. I remember ordering books from the university bookstores and waiting three weeks for them, and generally they arrived after the first exam!

Silverman:Yes, I think we've all shared that experience. But frankly, the thing that still amazes me is how inexpensive the online books are. Even if the students bought both the online version and the print version, they would still be paying less money than they would for a second hand copy of the competitive texts.

SP/Beck: In your experience, can you say whether or not other professionals on your faculty and across the USA are comfortable requiring online texts?

Silverman: I was concerned about whether the faculty would be willing to use an online textbook. I realized there was risk involved in this because this is the first online textbook that was ever created for our field. The feedback we're getting is excellent. In fact, the book has won an award and I recently went to Richmond to receive the Texty award.

SP/Beck:That's very impressive - congratulations! Do you imagine that you would regularly update the online textbook? In other words, with printed books, after a number of years the publisher may come back at you and say, ''Gee, would you like to do a second edition?'' And then you update it and make a second edition, and that goes for a couple of years and then maybe a third edition or whatever. With online books, you can revise and update anytime, fix the typos, change wording, add diagrams....in other words, there is no limit to the changes which can be made.

Silverman:Yes, it really is quite amazing. As far as the online version, it'll be modified continuously, as you indicated. They've got some real sophisticated people in computer programming and this is a whole new way to publish authoritative texts. It is set-up so I can modify stuff as needed.

SP/Beck:Dr. Silverman, thanks for sharing your thoughts on online texts. I think many people will find this interesting, and it wouldn't surprise me if a few clicked into Atomic Dog and gave the book a try. The website address is www.atomicdog.com/silverman. But before I let you run, can you give me a summary statement as to where speech language pathology is right now, as a profession, and where you hope it is in 2010?

Silverman:I have been a member of ASHA for about 40 years and I have seen it develop over that period of time. I'm also a fellow of ASHA. There's certainly no question in my mind that the profession is going to continue to prosper and it will continue to do well. I think ethics and professionalism, and a strong scientific background will be the keys to a successful future.

SP/Beck:Thanks so much for your time today Dr. Silverman.

Silverman: My pleasure. Thanks for your interest Dr. Beck.

To order the text, view the online demo chapter, or read the table of contents, visit www.atomicdog.com/silverman. Click on the ''View Demo Chapter'' link to see a sample of the Online Edition. Use the hyperlinked Table of Contents to view sections 3-2d, 3-4c, and 3-5 for audio/speech samples, and sections 3-2c and 3-3 for anatomic illustrations.