Crafting compelling and purposeful titles: A five step process

Light bulb thinkingAlthough the old adage states “you can’t tell a book by its cover”, in academic writing it is crucial that the title of an article or book “tell” the essence of the work. The title is the first critical decision point for a reader. Its goal is to invite the reader to peruse the abstract, read the article, and, hopefully, cite your work.

The title does a lot of work for your manuscript, and there are many good reasons to pay attention to crafting short, content-rich, and engaging titles. First, for you, the author, spending time crafting a title forces you to distill your detailed, multi-page manuscript into 10 to 15 words, a daunting task. Yet, through this process you can gain clarity on your topic, enabling you to hone your discussion points and potentially your writing as well. [Read more…]

Writing and systems: Beyond strategies, beyond tools

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad 2020 has ended. The year was exhausting and disrupting on so many levels. I watched my productivity hang on like a spider web in a hurricane, and my soul curl up inside, challenging assumptions, questioning most everything. Invariably, I thought quite a lot about my academic writing; I wrote very little. I thought more than I wrote, yes, but the thinking nurtured the writing, offered renewed perspectives. With these, hope revived. With hope, the deep satisfaction of having stayed the course, having written somethingeven if not enough – and been sustained by the writing habit, by the comfort and familiarity of a writing routine. [Read more…]

3/11 TAA Webinar: “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help”

PublishedThomas DeetjenDo you struggle to describe your research in writing? Like your crisp research vision inevitably devolves into a disorganized, confusing journal article? Let’s discuss a tool that can help—one with which you’re already familiar, but likely not familiar enough: journal article structure.

Join us Wednesday, March 11 at 1 p.m. ET for the 30-minute webinar, “Why Your Journal Articles Are Confusing and How IMRaD Can Help,” where Thomas Deetjen, author of Published, will explore the value of the Introduction, Methods, Results & Discussion—or IMRaD—journal article structure. [Read more…]

Manuscript matchmaking: Finding a home for your article 

With so many options, finding the right home for your manuscript can seem daunting. However, with a few useful tools, you can quickly and confidently locate publication venues appropriate for your work. In this article, you’ll be introduced to two such tools: Scopus Sources and the Web of Science Master Journal List.

Free to use, Scopus Sources allows authors to search for publications indexed in Scopus, an abstract and citation database from Elsevier. Scopus Sources is easy to search. Once you’ve performed a simple keyword search at the top of the page, you can refine your result list further by utilizing the limiters on the sidebar. For instance, you can limit by the open-access status of a publication, minimum number of citations, minimum number of documents, and by specific types of publications (such as journals, conference proceedings, etc.). [Read more…]

Polishing your scholarly manuscript–and letting it go

man writingIn this post, the fifth in a series of five, you will learn how to polish your prose by reading it out loud “backwards”—and then letting it go.

Before submitting your manuscript, read the manuscript out loud read it out loud s-l-o-w-l-y (Goodson, 2017, p. 36). To force yourself to read slowly, try reading your prose paragraph by paragraph backwards. That is, start with the last paragraph in your manuscript and move backward paragraph by paragraph until you reach the first paragraph. You will read more slowly because reading backwards is somewhat jarring. You will focus on each paragraph so you see problems that were previously invisible to you. You will read as though you were reading for the first time. You will divorce yourself from your prose and gain some distance from—and perspective about—your writing. You will see your manuscript through a new lens because what you were thinking at the time that you wrote and what you actually wrote can be different. [Read more…]

Solicit and use informal feedback before formal peer review

woman writerThis post, the fourth in a series of five, shows you how to seek informal feedback before formal review, which will increase your chances for getting manuscripts accepted and grants funded. After peer review, journal articles improve on 33 out of 34 measures (Goodman et al., 1994). There is no reason to believe that this is any different for informal reviews. You can seek informal feedback effectively by asking the right readers for the right kind of feedback—and then listening avidly and responding quickly and thoroughly.

Seek informal feedback before seeking formal peer review because it is the eyes of our readers that really “count”—we are not (supposed to be) communicating primarily with ourselves. [Read more…]

Organizing scholarly manuscripts—briskly and well

woman writingWant to publish in better journals and get more grants? Organization is the skeleton of a manuscript, its very structure. Get it right and the manuscript works. Get it wrong and it doesn’t. In this post, the third in a series of five, you will learn how to organize paragraphs around key or topic sentences, list those sentences in a “reverse” outline, and examine the list for clarity and organization. More than 90 scholars who tried these strategies were studied and 95 percent reported that their writing was clearer, better organized, and more compelling (Gray et al., 2018).

Identify—or write—a topic or key sentence for each manuscript and paragraph. A topic sentence may announce only the topic, but a key sentence also announces the point. So a topic sentence might say, “Next, we discuss the nutritional value of apples and oranges.” [Read more…]

Drafting scholarly manuscripts—briskly and well

man writingThis post, the second in a series of five, offers strategies that can help you learn to draft briskly and well. Draft your manuscript without revising as you draft and outline your manuscript based on an exemplar or an excellent publication, thesis, or grant proposal.

Writing informally is helpful for your very first draft—or anytime you are drafting a new paragraph or section. Writing informally can mean freewriting—or freely dictating—continuously without stopping and without revising your work. As you freewrite, conduct a conversation with yourself about whatever you are reading, whoever you are surveying or whatever is happening in your experiment. Converse with yourself to keep a written record of your thoughts as you research, however crude, so that you can read them later, revise them, and rachet up your thinking to the next level. [Read more…]

Triple your scholarly productivity by writing daily

typing on keyboardSome scholars astonish others in terms of their numbers of papers accepted and grants funded. Why do some flourish while others flounder? Even when you can’t work harder, there are important ways to work smarter. This post, the first in a series of five, offers strategies that can help you learn to draft manuscripts quickly and well by writing daily and by holding yourself accountable to someone else for doing so.

Scholars have found these strategies triple productivity. In one study (Gray et al., 2018), more than 90 faculty members and graduate students followed these strategies by writing for 30 minutes daily and holding themselves accountable to others for doing so. The participants increased their annual rate of finishing manuscripts from two to nearly six (Gray et al., 2018). Participants accomplished this by writing for only 30 minutes per day, four days per week. [Read more…]

eBook Download: 5 Distinguishing Features of Academic Writing

5 Distinguishing Features of Academic Writing ebook coverDuring Academic Writing Month 2019, TAA hosted a series of #AcWriChat TweetChat events focused on the distinguishing features of academic writing. Throughout the series we explored five academic writing features: Precision, Complexity, Formality, Objectivity, and Accuracy.

This eBook brings together the discussions and resources from those events.

Download. View TAA’s entire library of ebooks.