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Academic Writing: Hints and Tools

Emir Muñoz
November 16, 2017

Academic Writing: Hints and Tools

A short talk about hints and tools for academic writing that I have discovered during my PhD years.

Emir Muñoz

November 16, 2017

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  1. Turn comments like: I advise the authors to find a

    native English speaker to proofread the manuscript. To something like: The paper is well written and well structured. We aim to
  2. Do not trust me, I’m not a native English speaker

    (but, I have got a couple green messages ;)) There are no magical solutions for writing well, but many tools Do not depend on others’ comments about your text Do not wait for a deadline to approach to start writing! Most papers are templates (introduction, related work, method, experiments, conclusion) Follow the author’s guidelines of the journal/conference General comments
  3. Books about writing “writing productively does not require innate skills

    or special traits but specific tactics and actions” “straightforward tips to help you sort through your thoughts and make your sentences strong” “Learning to use these patterns well will aid you in writing papers using the language and style accepted by your research community”
  4. (This is what works for me) 1. Title 2. Abstract

    3. Conclusions 4. Introduction 5. Section headings, figures, captions 6. References How to “skim” a paper
  5. Mindful reading (1/2) Look up for the meaning of those

    fancy words! - Plethora (big quantity) - Forego (quit to) - Tailored (adapted to) - Flawlessly (without problems) - Hitherto (so far) - ... The idea: Learning-by-example!
  6. Identify patterns in other people’s writing (warning focus on good

    venues and researchers in your area) - This paper addresses the problem - Last but not least, [something] - It is worth pointing out, however, that [something] - This work builds on Xs work by [something] - Although there is a growing body of literature characterizing X such as Y and Z, these works focus on W, and are not V. - To a large degree, this X subsumes the prevailing X of Y. - As can be seen from Eqn. X - ... Mindful reading (2/2)
  7. (Just a few examples from Writing Scientific Papers in English

    Successfully) Colligations: LOOK + preposition = look at, look for Collocations: N + N = There is little research data related to ... Binomials: N and N = That is the kind of research and development that is ... Conventional expressions: Det + results suggest that = These results suggest that future … Corpus Linguistics (1/2)
  8. Sources Corpus of Contemporary American English: https://corpus.byu.edu/coca/ British National Corpus

    (BYU-BNC): https://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/ Wikipedia Search engines Corpus Linguistics (2/2)
  9. Search over millions of papers! “In this paper, we”: •

    Show • Propose • Consider • Present • Introduce • ... Google Scholar
  10. Write your killing abstract! 1. Introduction to the field 2.

    More detailed background 3. General problem 4. Main results 5. Positioning of the main results 6. Put your results into a more general context 7. Provide a broader perspective www.nature.com/nature/authors/gta/Letter_bold_para.doc
  11. Thank you! Take-home messages • Read and pay attention to

    those fancy words • Dissect the papers as you read them. Be a reviewer! • Identify and reuse textual patterns • Identify and reuse the templates Any comments let me know: [email protected]