Tips for Writing a Conference Paper

Writing and editing a conference paper for oral presentation Have you ever attended academic conferences where the occasional presenter’s droning voice or convoluted syntactic constructions have made paying attention a real challenge? Perhaps you have even witnessed the following scene: hearing that time is up, the frazzled presenter begins leafing through a stack of unread pages and attempts to condense [...]

By | December 11th, 2014|

Four Elements of a Good Paragraph (TTEB)

The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB) One of our favorite sources of writing advice for academic writers is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). For authors seeking to improve the cohesiveness and logic of their paragraphs, the OWL offers a straightforward paradigm, complete with mnemonic: The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB) A good paragraph should contain [...]

By | November 19th, 2014|

The Ethics of Tense in Scientific Papers

Tense in scientific papers – a question of ethics "There is one special convention of writing scientific papers that is very tricky. It has to do with tense, and it is important because its proper usage derives from scientific ethics. When a scientific paper has been validly published in a primary journal, it thereby becomes knowledge. Therefore, whenever you quote [...]

By | November 18th, 2014|

More Abstract Writing Tips

Writing an abstract for a scientific paper Abstract writing can be tricky. Luckily, resources for academic writers abound on the web. Below are two useful lists on writing an abstract from Rice University. The first list covers content, the second, style. Summarize the study, including the following elements in any abstract. Try to keep the first two items to no [...]

By | November 5th, 2014|

Simple Guidelines for Writing an Abstract

Writing the abstract Here is a simple guideline for writing an abstract: Write one to two summary sentences for each of the following categories: introduction, objectives, methods, results, and conclusion. This guideline is effective for most journals. However, some journals have recently changed their requirements for abstract length and format, which means you may need to change your approach. Abstract [...]

By | October 30th, 2014|

Writing for an International Journal

Write for a general audience Writing your article for a high-ranking international journal offers several advantages: more options for getting your work published, more readers and more frequent citations. A good way to determine if your study might be relevant to international researchers is to ask the question: would someone in another country or working on a different subject (or species) care about my research? If the answer is yes (or maybe), then try to write your manuscript for a general audience. Often you determine this during the writing stage. How to write for an international audience Thinking broadly about highly detailed and specific research can be tricky for many researchers. And not all studies or papers can be targeted for an international audience since they may not be applicable beyond the immediate parameters of the study. However, many manuscripts can be written for a more general, international audience. For example, while many scientists might be reluctant to admit it, much of our research is invariably conducted as a ‘case study’ that applies to a specific region, species, chemical or disease (except for syntheses including meta-analyses). In my field of research, ecology, this can often mean that the research question is too regional or species-specific. Broadening the scope of your manuscript beyond the specifics of your study will make your research more attractive to high-ranking international journals, which often reject articles that are too specific or too detailed to be of interest to a broad audience. Once you have determined that you are writing for a general audience, focus on the broader topic that is relevant to your audience. Always keep the general context in mind while presenting your specific study. Imagine that you are explaining your study to someone from another country on the other side of the world in a way that might make it more likely that they will cite your work in their future studies. The best way to write for a general audience is to include general hypotheses and broad applications whenever possible. For example, a study on a specific invasive plant in a particular region could be framed in a more general context of hypotheses regarding invasive plants and their general life history traits. The way in which you frame the research question, present the results of your study, and discuss the significance of your results are all critical for appealing to a broad international audience. Strategies for sections of the paper Here are some strategies for writing different sections of your manuscript: Introduction – Try not to introduce your particular situation (e.g., species, region, case study) until late in the introduction after you have first described the background material on the more general topic and research question. If you cannot do this, perhaps your study is regional. Methods – The methods section is obviously harder to generalize so you do need to discuss your specific study in detail. Results – You do not need to include all the specific results. Because a long list of case study results may be tedious and of little interest an international audience, you should move these results to an appendix. You can summarize these results and focus on results of more general interest. For example, as an ecologist I may not be interested in responses of individual species in another country, but I may be interested in general responses of shade-tolerant versus shade-intolerant species. Discussion – Writing the discussion section for an international audience is most important. You can achieve this by focusing on explaining general patterns in relation to a broad, international body of literature that will show that your study is relevant to readers in other regions. […]

By | September 23rd, 2014|

Writing Style: A Clear Voice for Readability

To develop your critical writing voice, think of your readers As an academic writer, you must not only present a clear and objective argument in your writing but also develop a critical voice. Too often, academic writers believe erasing any sense of personality creates more objective prose. But writings in the social sciences and especially the humanities are not only about what is [...]

By | July 24th, 2014|

Prepare Your Article for Your Target Journal

Preparing your manuscript for your target journal Once you have chosen your target journal for your paper, the one you think most appropriate for your paper, tailoring your manuscript for that journal will increase the chance it will be accepted. It is important that you convince the journal that your manuscript is suitable for their readers. If it is properly [...]

By | June 29th, 2014|

Selecting a Journal for Your Article

Selecting a journal for your scientific paper You have completed your research, collected and analyzed your data, and written a thesis chapter or presented a poster session. Now it’s time to prepare the paper for submission to a journal. One of your first questions will be, which journal should I choose? There are many factors to consider, not only about [...]

By | June 16th, 2014|

Write a Winning Book Proposal

Writing a successful book proposal One of the hard truths about becoming a book author is that you must also become a sort of marketer. Unfortunately, it’s not enough merely to write the book, you must sell it – long before it finds its way to a bookstore. The book proposal is your chief marketing tool for reaching an editor [...]

By | March 12th, 2014|