You may have noted that I don’t do link round-ups as often as I used to do. Time is short and things were starting to get stressful so I decided to cut down a little and I will now publish round-ups monthly rather than weekly.
Hopefully, it should also help me to keep them more focused on things actually related to the literature review!
Today I’ve rounded-up articles about academic writing. I have told you before how this is one of my favourite topics to do round-ups about. I’m happy to report that this is still true!
In particular, since I’ve started using Scrivener again recently, I was very happy to find a few links about this software. I find fascinating to read about how others use it differently than I do!
But let’s start at the beginning with a few articles on the nature of writing.
On the nature of writing
“Theresa Lillis argues that writing needs to be understood as a social ‘phenomenon’. As such, established models of writing (which are generally linear and sequential: left-right; up-down; full of arrows, boxes, circles within circles) can never fully show what writing is and what writing does because each model can only ever hope to capture what Lillis calls a particular “domain” of writing […].” This why, instead of models, she proposes metaphors.
“Writing and thinking have always been, for me, a sort of ‘chicken and egg’ issue: which comes first – do I read and think and then start writing, or will the thinking only really come when the writing happens?”
Getting back into writing
Was academic writing amongst your 2016 New Year resolutions? This post should help you putting your good intentions into action.
“A lot of things occupy our time, as busy academics (graduate students and professors) we end up lacking the time and mental space we need for exactly the thing we are supposed to be doing.”
Some great insights about the book How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silvia and how it helped Ana Kedveš overcoming her writing barriers.
How you can use Ridley Scott’s method for making movie in your own academic writing.
10 tips on using creativity to keep the words flowing.
On top of being itself some academic writing, blogging can inform and support other forms of academic writing: it can help you to establish writing as a routine, it allows you to experiment with your writing “voice”, it helps you to get to the point, and more.
Writing comes in waves and lulls happen. But as long as you’ll be an academic, the writing will never be done.
What happens when you’re finally ready to start writing…
Academic writers could try and treat procrastination the same way as creative writers: by embracing it as a time necessary before producing a good quality (rather than quantity) of text.
“Academic writing can feel like a chore, akin to a distant relative who comes and sits in the corner of your bedroom, consuming endless cups of coffee and giving nothing in return. But the trick, I have learnt, is to shake that relative by the hand and say, ‘Ah, let us dance.’”
“When Writer’s Block comes to pay you a visit, this is what you can do to un-invite it: spend at least thirty solid minutes in nature.”
Actionable advice: writing with a goal
In this very helpful article, Pat Thomson dissects an introduction to a book in order to analyse how its co-writers define their place in the field and the contribution to be made.
A bit of help to write up your methods and results.
“The title of your paper (or chapter for that matter) can be a really good place to do some high level thinking. A good title can help you decide the direction you want to take and data you need to collect.”
Professor Helen Sword’s top ten tips to write better titles.
Some great advice to help you write the introduction to a journal article.
PhD and proposals
“Writing a good PhD proposal (or any research proposal, really) can be like maintaining a swimming pool: a balancing act that is achieved with no small amount of hard work.”
“Once the proposal is approved, what next? What to write, or read, first, second and so on? Do you forget the proposal exists and start your thesis, or have you, in fact, already started it?”
And Tanya Golash-Boza explains how her academic book, “Deported”, came to be.
The Words We Use
A brilliant demonstration of how, when you repeat a word over and over, the solution might not be in finding substitutes: you might have to revise the whole structure of your text.
“Technical terminology has a role to play in our scientific writing. Used well, it provides precision and, as a result, clarity. […] The problem arises, and technical terminology becomes jargon, when we lose sight of the tradeoffs that come with our drive for precision.”
“Just as using coffee jargon can make you sound like a coffee snob at your old tea drinking grandmother’s house, academic jargon is all about the context. […] There’s no doubt that academic jargon makes text harder to read and will limit your audience. […] But we need this academic jargon because it makes our texts simultaneously concise and dense with meaning.”
Can academic writing ever be too clear for its own good?
“A reverse outline is something you do after you have drafted a piece of work or a section. It is a very helpful way to see if what you have written makes sense, if one thing follows from another and if it is all in the right order.”
“The hard part is deciding whether something is worth sharing and whether it can be revised into publishable form. This stage is harder because it is less about technique and more about self-doubt.”
“ComWriter is an Australian designed and developed writing platform that removes the clutter arising from tools, style requirements and formatting rules, to enable concentration on the process of research writing.”
“Grammarly is not perfect but it’s better than many similar solutions, such as the grammar checker in Word™.”
“It’s been 6 months since I made the switch to Scrivener. […] It has made an amazing difference to the way that I write. But more significantly, it has caused a tangible sea-change in the way that I feel when I sit down to write.”
Dana Ray is as non-techy as you can be. She tells us about how she tried Scrivener for a month:
– Part 4: “Scrivener did not become my new best friend. But any new tool, if we give it the chance, can jolt us out of our detrimental habits.”
“If you’ve never done a writing group before, [here] are a few examples of how you can format a group, and more importantly, how to keep them going.”
A video explaining how Read Around groups work.
“I’ve been running Grant Camps for my researchers. Inspired by the award-winning Thesis Boot Camp model, Grant Camps are half-day events that give applicants the time to address the major aspects of an application.”
How to support PhD and research writing: “As the literacy demands change, so too do a student’s strategies and skill levels need to change and develop, and so the guidance, instruction and advice around writing that they are given needs to keep pace with these changes.”
How to cope productively with feedback on your writing.
How you can learn about your own writing from giving feedback.
Managing writing tension in the supervision relationship: “It isn’t uncommon for tension to arise between doctoral students and their supervisors over the writing processes. Commonly this occurs when supervision crosses different cultural protocols for talking across hierarchies. Gender, age, experience—even things like whether both have children or not—can cause tensions.”
Have you read (or written!) anything interesting on the topic of writing recently? Share your links in the comments!