Quote or paraphrase? Three tips from a pro

It’s a pity when surface problems scuttle otherwise strong scholarship. As an academic editor, I’ve noticed that poorly handled quotations are particularly damning. Inelegant use of prior scholarship can give the impression that a writer is unsophisticated, or even amateur.

Naturally, research does involve mining books and articles to inform our own arguments, which are ideally novel and substantial but still reference that prior work. Often there may be temptation to repurpose existing literature that seems to say exactly what needs to be said in order to get to ideas that are original. It can certainly be difficult to think around the particular ways in which influential scholars have formulated cornerstone concepts.

11 Tricks and tips to get those words on a page

Whether we’re in the throes of a dissertation, article, or book, most of us have trouble writing—starting, continuing, finishing. Especially after our original flush of enthusiasm and amazed production at the first few paragraphs or pages, we find that each of our writing projects carries its own problems.

From my own experiences with tortured writing and those of my academic coaching and editing clients, here I’ll share eleven tricks and tips to help you ease into or continue your writing. If you need convincing, included too are credible rationales for how each method can help you.

5 Key principles to building clear text transitions

A common weakness in novice academic writing is a lack of flow; for readers, this lack of flow means they can’t easily see how one thought follows from another. To combat this problem, we need to learn how to make effective transitions between sentences. Such transitions are usually managed in one of two ways: through transition words or through evident links in the text. Both strategies have a role to play, but novice writers, unfortunately, often see transition words as their main way of moving from sentence to sentence.

How to ease into (and even enjoy) your dissertation writing

We can’t deny it: writing your dissertation is hard. All that time you devote to research is a worthy endeavor but, no matter how many plums you’ve collected, at some point you know you’re stalling. In my longtime dissertation coaching and editing practice, I have witnessed, cautioned, and counseled many dissertation writers on the difficulties of the actual writing. Peter, a new doctoral candidate who came from the corporate world, confided, “I struggle daily with understanding the shift from business and occupational writing to writing as a researcher according to certain expectations and standards.”