If you are writing an academic article, odds are you have already been doing a ton of research and you know what you’re going to prove in your article. But where do you go from there? How do you get started? There is so much more to writing than merely writing. The task can seem daunting when all you have so far is a great theory and five hundred post it notes stuck to your computer. Writing an academic article can be stressful if you dive in without a plan. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Follow these seven practical tips and ensure that your brilliant ideas are conveyed in a good quality article.
1: Make a schedule
Plan ahead. It can be difficult to ‘”find” time to put in the effort that will guarantee a quality article, so “make” time. Just like you are expected to be in class or at work at a certain time for a certain amount of time, expect the same from yourself when it comes to writing your article. Hang a calendar on the fridge and fill in your shifts. Commit to working on your article for designated hours on designated days. And then show up! This article, after all, is your job, isn’t it?
2: Research Some More
You cannot write a quality academic article if you have not put in the ground work. Whether you’re a scientist proving a theory, a psychologist presenting a study, or a writer reviewing a works, this is your passion you need a sound argument with the proof to back it up! It is not enough to find a source a few articles that compliment your argument. Mining for simple sources is a freshmen trick beneath anyone writing a quality paper. Research means digging deep. Researching means uncovering information that challenges your position. Embrace the challenge. Find everything you can to contradict what you’d like to say. Dig deeper until you have either reasserted or changed your original argument. Research anything you can get your hands on and then research its sources. Only when you have exhausted every resource available to you on your article’s subject can you assertively have faith in your argument. You have done the groundwork and now have the confidence that your argument will be strong enough to stand up to any other scholarly articles out there that oppose your position.
What do you want your article to do for you. You want more to be just published, don’t you? You want to make a name for yourself in the scholarly world. This article does more than just prove something to the people who are reading it. This article, and others that you write, will develop an image of you in the area of you are expert. Readers, peers, colleagues will get to know you, through the articles you write. What kind of language will you use? What will your tone be? Remember, you are developing and creating an image of yourself to your future readers as you develop the article you are writing. Reflect on what you want to convey in your article and then align your tone, language, and position to reflect your ideal.
Read, read, and read some more. Read the scholarly journal or type of journals you would like to be published in. Absorb the tone and the language in these journals’ articles. Get a feel for the style of these journals. Then make sure that your article will make a good addition. When your own tone and style similarly reflects the tone and style of the journals you’d like to be published in, it is more likely the editors can see the article in their journals. Mitigate the chances of being rejected by ensuring that your article will be a good fit for the journal you are submitting your article to.
Odds are you’ve been writing all along. Taking notes, jotting down ideas. But putting it all together can be tough. Make yourself. Sometimes you just need to sit at a desk and start typing away. Not everything will be great material and not everything will end up in your article, but if you always wait for inspiration to strike you may find yourself waiting until the eleventh hour, and then the inspiration striking you is merely frantic, last minute stress. Don’t do that to yourself. Use the schedule you set to force yourself to sit down and hammer out some sentences. It is amazing the material you are capable of producing even when you’re “not feeling it.” At the very least the practice of writing is great for brushing up language, style, and fluidity.
You’ve done the research. You’ve brainstormed, and written, and have all the components to your article. Now you need to put it together to into a clear, concise, and clean argument. It’s not enough to have a great idea and even to prove that great idea. You are responsible for preparing and presenting a document. The document needs to have an introduction, a body of evidence and argument, and a conclusion. In the introduction you are introducing your ideas, making a declaration, and explaining how you will prove that declaration. The body is where you present all the research you did, and where you will analyse that research to prove your point. In the conclusion you will summarize your findings and it is the last opportunity you have to assertively, and eloquently, state your thesis. Keep in mind it is likely you are expected to write in a certain “style” and that your article will be rejected you do not follow the style’s guidelines. On top of proving your argument, you need to present it in a nice neat document that makes it easy and attractive for the reader. Do this for them, and it is more likely they will agree with what you are saying.
Submitting a rough draft is another rookie yet common mistake. You should revisit your article several times before submitting it to an editor. After writing what you think is a good article, give yourself a day or two off. If you’ve planned ahead properly you should still have several days, or even weeks before you need to submit your article. Then come back and edit your article critically. Read and reread your article. Where can it be cleaned up, less wordy, more clear? Have you actually set out to prove, with a strong argument, exactly what you wanted to say? Enlist the help and opinions of professors, peers, and colleagues. Meet adversity and stamp it out of your article before it’s even published. Last but not least hire a professional to clean up the spelling and grammar. Your article should be absolutely free of grammatical and spelling errors. Using spell check is not enough. You want this published!
Writing an academic article is an undertaking that deserves to be met with a professional attitude. It is important to submit quality material. The task can be stressful, but there are different kinds of stress. By planning ahead with a schedule and following this guideline you can eliminate the bad stress, and enjoy the good stress, the kind that motivates you to accomplish your goals, particularly your goal of writing a quality academic article!