Category: academic writing

Whose ideas are they anyway? Academic work as a form of public action, rather than possession.

Do our academic creations belong to us? Should we think of them as property? Amidst debates about how to cite properly and circulating fears of ideas being stolen, do we risk losing touch with wider questions about how ideas emerge and develop, and the limits of provenance? Davina Cooper argues public action may provide a better way of thinking about […]

Say it once, say it right: Seven strategies to improve your academic writing.

Whether writing a research article or a grant proposal, it can be difficult to pinpoint the sections and areas that need further improvement. It is useful to have a set of tactics on hand to address the work. Patrick Dunleavy outlines seven upgrade strategies for a problematic article or chapter: Do one thing well. Flatten the structure. Say it once, […]

Why do bloggers blog so much about blogging?

More than just the enthusiastic pronouncements of reaching wider audiences, Pat Thomson suspects that blogging has in many ways legitimated, promoted and extended an interest in the practice of academic writing itself. Blogs about blogging suggest that bloggers also find – and frequently point to – new forms of peer support and other academic opportunities generated through their blogging. This suggests […]

How much data do you need? Like documentary film-making, research requires far greater coverage than the final cut.

It can be difficult to determine how much data is required for research analysis. Kerim Friedman compares the process to documentary film-making where they typically shoot sixty times the amount that makes the final cut. The concept of a “shooting ratio” underlines the necessity of collecting a lot of data in order to find that one choice nugget upon which hinges the analysis. But collecting […]

Impact Round Up 10th May: Reputational gaps, registered reports, and serendipity in research.

Managing Editor Sierra Williams presents a round-up of popular stories from around the web on higher education, academic impact, and trends in scholarly communication. Give the pioneers a chance – OA and closing the reputational gap for young scientists by Alexander Grossman: Substitute pay-walled journals with new open science technologies to publicly publish your scientific results; continue to use social network tools […]

The right tool for the job: Five collaborative writing tools for academics.

Research collaboration now involves significant online communication. But sending files back and forth between collaborators creates redundancy of effort, causes unnecessary delays and, many times, leaves people frustrated with the whole idea of collaboration. Luckily, there are many web-based collaborative writing tools aimed at the general public or specifically at academic writers to help. Christof Schöch looks at the different tools out […]

Designing ‘attention points’ in academic work: Four principles for improving tables, graphs, charts and diagrams.

Attention points in a written text help to focus readers’ attention  on the key points of the research findings. While the inclusion of such points are generally recognised as vital, Patrick Dunleavy finds that in practice, many scholarly writers struggle with basic design strategies. He identifies four top-level design principles to consider when constructing tables, charts, graphs, or diagrams. Particularly in a digital era it […]

Blogging can be a release from all the structural pressures corroding the creative impulse in academic writing.

Mark Carrigan untangles the mixture of creativity and routine when academics sit down to convey complex thoughts. Waiting for the organic moment of inspiration when deadlines loom can be unreliable. By making blogging his main vehicle for intellectual exploration, he was free to explore a form of creative expression that he found intensely liberating. Is consistent writing a matter of attentiveness to moments of inspiration […]

Book Review: Doing Research in the Real World by David E. Gray

In this book David E. Gray introduces readers to the essential aspects of the research process, covering topics ranging from best approaches to the design of appropriate research tools, to issues of data collection, analysis, and writing up. The author skilfully explains complex and … Continue reading