How to Overcome Difficulties in Academic Writing

Academic writing is a skill essential for anyone looking to pursue higher academics. Academic writing is a specific type of writing that involves a lot of reading or material collection, doing in-depth research and critical analysis of scholarly literature, planning of the entire presentation, revising contents and structure, etc. Invariably it ends up involving rewriting, editing, proofreading, and formatting to make it more professional and efficient.

Academic writings can be in the form of essays, term paper, thesis, dissertation, research reports, etc. depending on the core academic activity on which the final manuscript is to be based. While each of these forms has its own peculiarities and specific requirements, there are certain commonalities that every budding academician needs to keep in mind.

The first key element for academic writing is self-organization. Academic writing is different from other forms of writing as it requires strict discipline not only in preparation for the content but also in how the content is presented. Any academic manuscript needs to be organized in a standard format: an introduction that includes the hypothesis or the premise which is essentially what the entire manuscript tries to address; the body of the content, which should include separate paragraphs discussing evidence that supports or negates the hypothesis; and a conclusion that ties everything together and conclusively connects it to the hypothesis. Self-organization starts with narrowing down the planned manuscript to chalk-out a basic outline even before the first words are drafted.

Research of secondary literature or ‘literature review’ is an essential part of any academic writing. Before one delves into one’s own hypothesis and arguments in favor or in opposition to it, it is customary to first review and present the viewpoints/evidence already presented by all others/peers in this field. Any such research needs to be reported with proper citation and accreditation as deemed fit. Plagiarism is a major problem in the field of academic writing and special care needs to be taken to ensure (a) no referencing is missed out for any secondary source of material and (b) the language of presentation is an authors’ own and not just a plain copy-paste of the original manuscript. One can always quote others but that needs to be done in a limited capacity and in proper formatting and protocols for quoting and citations.

Editing of the manuscript is an absolute must for any academic writing. Grammar, style, and punctuation are incredibly important if the article is to be understood and taken seriously. Language and vocabulary are important, and using jargon just to sound smart often results in the opposite effect if used inappropriately as it exposes overcompensating in their writing. Each body paragraph must start with a topic sentence that presents the main idea of the paragraph and express your point of view, and each paragraph much end with its own mini-conclusion of the discussions covered that logically leads to the next paragraph.

Academic writing is a habit developed by practice and is an integral part of the entire academic exercise.

A professional guide to research paper writing

Research is not only about investigating, proving a theory, or discovering scientific novelties; it is also about sharing these findings and discoveries with fellow researchers and other interested parties. To achieve this, researchers must write and publish the implications of their research findings.

Writing a research paper requires a completely different skillset from writing an essay or drafting an email to your professor and friend. Hence, it is a good idea for every researcher to keep learning how to improve research writing. Moreover, even native English speakers struggle to write a standard research paper.

From the researcher’s point of view, there are five standard steps that need to be considered for writing a quality research paper in order to achieve research funding, publication in a renowned journal, university credit or other professional goals. They are:

  1. Choosing a topic
  2. Understanding the topic and creating a list of relevant research topics
  3. Preparing an outline
  4. Preparing the first draft
  5. Proofreading and finalizing the draft

  1. Choosing a topic

Selecting a topic is the first step of writing the paper. Notably,a good and relevant topic must be selected with a narrow and interesting focus area, and yet wide enough to find sufficient data.

  1. Understanding the topic and creating a list of relevant research topics

To understand a topic, a list of keywords must be created. Keywords can be located in search engines (Google Scholar) or databases (PubMed, SCOPUS, Elsevier, etc.) and background information may be found in thesis libraries or eBooks. After creating the keywords list, relevant research and review papers can be searched in the article databases. The most relevant articles must be selected and sorted as the references, which will help in the writing process.

  1. Preparing an outline

Once the list of relevant articles is created, it is important to note down all the information or ideas that must have come to mind while going through the articles. Moreover, while conducting the research,tons of great ideas also must have appeared. Now it should be organized as an impressive presentation. This is a vital step for making a paper more focused and this will further help you revise the draft later.

Key points must be noted down to support the research statement. These key points can be used as subheadings for the body of the paper. Make sure you include only the relevant information that fit under your sub-headings and directly support your research implications.

  1. Preparing the first draft

The next step is to organize the information collected. A rough draft must be prepared where the ideas are written in an unfinished form. This step helps organize ideas and determines the final format of the paper. The draft must be revised as many times as possible to create a final product. The final document thus created is the first draft of the research paper. The next step requires citation of the sources (references). Citing the sources provides proper credit to the authors of the papers referred by you. As per the general guidelines of the most reputed journals, MLA and the APA styles are the most recommended citation formats.

  1. Proofreading and finalizing the draft

To prepare the final draft of the paper, the output, scientific knowledge, flow, and transitions must be checked. The paper can be revised by adding useful knowledge that might have been skipped or by rewriting and rearranging certain paragraphs for greater clarity. The ideas must be completely developed and all relevant references must be cited. After the revision of the paper, the next step is to edit the content to check and eliminate filler words and phrases and improve the overall word selection. The paper must also be proofread for errors in punctuation and grammar.

Finally, the paper should be sent to a friend or professor to go through and give their inputs.

Is it necessary to publish papers to obtain your PhD?

Publishing paper would be cherry on pie to build an academic career. Publication is a prerequisite for obtaining your PhD. A well-known phrase “Publish or perish” justifies this statement. Although it sounds dulcet, you need to take utmost care at every single step. If you are wondering, how to achieve your goal, here are a couple of points to ease your muddle.

Research

The first step to achieve your goal should focus on deep research about various papers, journals, publishers. This will help you to pick up the appropriate decision. The lack of research may end up selecting an inappropriate journal which may throw you in the backward direction of your goal. Hence, it is advisable to do thorough research before jumping into a conclusion.

Quality over Quantity

It is said, “Quality takes time but reduces the quantity”. You should spend time developing significant research agendas rather than spending more time scrambling to publish whatever you can get. For example, 1 research paper with novel findings and own interpretation can scoot over 10 review papers. So, don’t rush up on writing more papers as there is no guarantee that writing 10 papers would award you with your degree.

Face your fear

As a beginner, it is obvious to be anxious about the result. However, keep in mind that, “Failure always leads to greater achievements”. Keep yourself calm and composed and don’t force yourself to implant negative thinks.  These negative thinking will divert you to take the decision of writing it with a co-author. I am not against this statement but this decision might affect you in a later state.

 Be ready

No one in this world is perfect so don’t let your ego come in between achieving your goal. You should be confident enough about your research paper. It is better if you could make it proofread by someone to pick up the flaws prior to submission. Several companies are there which provide such services thereby helping you completing the research error-free.

Manage your emotions  

It is quite necessary to manage the time from the beginning with great patience as you had to research all the details minutely within the stipulated time. You can also seek the help of your guide to review it and suggest you with certain actions.

Conclusion

Obtaining PhD through publication is not only an option available for doctoral candidates. In order to achieve your goal, you must work hard and present strong research with novel findings. The candidate who easily accepts the flaws and decodes it further in their work will go a long way.

Tools to use in academia to jointly review a thesis

  • Track change mode in Microsoft word, where after a reviewer has posted comments and made changes it can be seen by all and also another reviewer could write their comments.
  • Adobe Acrobat’s feature called‘Shared Review’. Only viewed on a single platform, here the comments can be posted in the pdf file itself.
  • Latexdiffcite, which can give you the difference between different commits.

 

Structure of a clinical case report

Different journals have different formats, therefore it is advisable to select few target journals and read them to get a general idea of the sequence and format in which the content should be placed.
In general, case reports include the following components:

 

Things to avoid to frame a good research paper title

Drafting a good research paper title needs serious thought. Researchers focus so much on their research findings that they tend to forget the important role played by the title of their paper. Though it seems a simple task, in reality the process of choosing a suitable title demands consistent thinking and attention. This step is a critical one because readers will search online and through databases and bibliographies based on the title. Therefore, it is imperative that you have a title that can drive your targeted audience/readers to your research paper. An interesting research topic combined with an accurate title will definitely draw more attention to your work from peers and the public.

There are many pre-set criteria that help researchers write a perfect research paper title. But it would also be helpful to have a list of what should never go into the title of a journal article. The following list can act as a useful reckoner about what to avoid in your research title in order to increase the impact of your research.

A Handy List of Don’ts

  • The period is generally not used in a title (even a declarative phrase can work without a period)
  • Any type of dashes to separate title elements or hyphens to link words is allowed.
  • Chemical formulae should be noted in their generic or common names. For example H2O, CH4, etc should be avoided.
  • The title should not include roman numerals (e.g., III, IX, etc.).
  • Try not to include semi-colons; however, the colon can be used to make two-part titles.
  • The taxonomic hierarchy of species of plants, animals, fungi, etc. is not needed.
  • Abbreviations confuse readers, so they should be avoided (except for RNA, DNA which is standard now and widely known).
  • Initials and acronyms should not be included as they create confusion. (e.g., “Ca” may get confused with CA, which denotes cancer).
  • It’s good to avoid query marks as they probably decrease the number of citations, but a query mark is useful in economics and philosophy papers or when the findings are undecided).
  • Too many offbeat words can influence the Altmetric Attention Score; using common words is better.
  • Avoid using numerical exponents or units (e.g. km-1 or km/hr).
  • Phrases should be direct and factual (e.g., “with” could be rewritten with the more specific verb “amongst”).
  • Complex drug names should be avoided (use the generic name if allowed to).
  • Do not include obvious or non-specific openings with a conjunction (e.g., “Report on,” “A Study of,” “Results of,” “An Experimental Investigation of,” etc. because they don’t contribute any meaning).
  • Italicize only species names of studied organisms.
  • Avoid using shortened scientific names (write Escherichia coli and not coli).
  • Try to wrap the title within 50 to 100 characters as shorter titles are cited more often.

These steps would help a researcher to form an effective and relevant title for their research paper. A title should be interesting predicts the content of the research paper and also reflect the tone of the writing.

Academic Journals

Academic journals are also known as periodicals. They usually include the research works of a variety of people specialising in diverse areas of academics. Academic journals are not written by every regular author, but only by professionals who are approved to share their opinions, knowledge and researches with a huge community consisting of educationists, professors and students. The reason behind writing in academic journals is to enhance the information in universal and in explicit sense, as well as to share the information with students and other experts belonging to the same field or discipline.

The present article on “Academic Journals” gives detailed information about academic journals and some basic tips as guidance while writing for academic journals.

Types of Academic Journals

Academic journal writing differs on the basis of its subject matter. In a broader sense, academic journals can be characterised under the following types.

  • Art journals
  • Arts and Education
  • Biological Sciences
  • Business Journals
  • Legal Studies
  • Medical Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Research Journals
  • Scholarly Journals
  • Science Journals
  • Social Sciences

Tips for Academic Journals Writing

In order to produce a remarkable piece of content, which is suitable for publishing, it is necessary to follow specific kinds of formats and procedures.

  • Ensure to write significant and relevant points and sentences. Avoid unnecessary and repetitive information. Pay extra attention while selecting words and phrases.
  • Try to maintain a formal tone in your writing. Besides, ensure that the sentences are composed from the viewpoint of a third party.
  • Remember that the readers of your articles are people from your own field or discipline. Thus, it is typical to assume that they already possess basic knowledge about what you will be writing. Consequently, this eliminates the need of explaining the information in much detail.
  • Ensure to format and organise your written matter into various segments so that the article looks well-arranged and easy to comprehend.
  • Although not mandatory, it is always beneficial to go through the process of peer review. By the help of this process, one or more professionals belonging to your specific field will read and analyse your written material and provide suggestions for improvement.
  • After finishing writing the article, ensure to revise and proofread it. Read it again and again to check and eliminate any kind of mistake in spellings, punctuation, grammar, concepts, and/or reasoning.

Writing for academic journals is not that tough if taken proper steps and assistance. As these journals are usually written by professionals, there are fewer chances of errors, but one can never be too sure about this. Hence, it is advised to follow some basic tips and guidelines while writing your articles for academic journals in order to avoid any kind of mistake or error.

Academic Style of Writing

When writing, you should use a formal, academic style. Academic writing does not have to be elaborate or complicated. A well-structured, straightforward paper is more easily understood and your ideas better appreciated than one filled with complicated sentences and words.

Strong academic writing must

  •  Be well-organized, with ideas presented in a logical order;
  •  Present objective analysis that is critical without being too negative or positive;
  •  Use clear language that is simple without being basic;
  •  Avoid emotional language.

Every field has its style of writing. The best way to become familiar with the style used in your field is to read and note how effective authors write.