You’re working on a piece of academic writing that just won’t turn out right?
Some quick tips:
- Get the start right. Start with something that will get your readers attention, frame the key issues, and briefly (elegantly, as Thomas Basbøll and Jonathan Mayhew point out) signpost the rest of your article. More advice on this by Patrick Dunleavy and by Pat Thompson.
- Does your argument (still) follow a logical structure? Re-planning paragraphs can do magic for your work as a whole. More advice on this from Patrick Dunleavy and on reverse-outlining by Rachael Cayley.
- Make sure your work is focused and not overcrowded with ideas (this is also a common reason for why journals reject articles, according to Pat Thompson).
- Improve how you display tables, graphs, charts and diagrams (see advice from Patrick Dunleavy).
- Make sure the structure is appropriate to what you’re trying to do (quantity of sub-headings), Thomas Basbøll has some ideas on this, also see Rachael Cayley and Patrick Dunleavy on the art of paragraphs.
- The ending matters, see Pat Thompson and Liz Marsden for more.
More on what to do with terrible first drafts from Katherine Firth’s Research Degree Voodoo.
For more blogs on academic writing, see (among others)
- Thomas Basbøll’s Research as a Second Language
- Rachael Cayley’s Explorations of Style
- Patrick Dunleavy’s Writing for Research
- Katherine Firth’s Research Degree Voodoo
- Liz Marsden’s Academic Tips and Tricks
- Inger Mewburn’s (ed) Thesis Whisperer
- Jonathan O’Donnell and Tseen Khoo’s (eds) Research Whisperer
- Pat Thomson’s Patter