It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.
Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.
Another quirk I’ve noticed is that less effective manuscripts—whether they’re written by early-career scholars or not—tend to organize information into lists. That may not sound so damning, but lists become vulnerabilities when they are presented as arguments. [Read more…]