Writing Research Articles

By reading the first chapte "Becoming an anthor" of the book  "Authoring a PhD: How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation", I found some useful information about the differences between the classical and taught PhD model, which provides us with a significant attention about what knowledge and skills we should focus on more and allocate our time efficiently. For example, in "classical model", the thesis requirement is to write a big book thesis integrating set of chapters from 80,000 to 100,000 words; on the other hand, that of the "taught PhD model" is a papers model dissertation including four or five publishable quality papers, around 60,00 words. My school's dotoral program is a taught PhD model that includes coursework, examinations and a dissertation. Therefore, practicing writing papers is crucial for us, even at our very first year. It helps us build up our academic writting  and authoring skills, know how to target readers and manage readers' expectation so that we will be able to publish a number of papers to complete the dissertation. As being said by my advisor,  many papers are rejected just because of bad writting.

One important point to become a good author as stated in this chapter is that we have to be aware of "different readers may still code the same text in different ways". It is funamental to consider carefully and consistently about how readers will understand our text, and to keep readers in mind when writting. Moreover, we shouldn't just consider supervisors and advisers as the readers of our dissertation. We are doing research, sharing knowledge, ant thus expect to have more scholars who are interested in our work. This is different with writting a grand proposal which is needed to meet the grand's committees.

In "A Survival Guide to a PhD", Andrej Karpathy share some very useful information of writting papers. "Writing good papers is an essential survival skill of an academic (kind of like making fire for a caveman). In particular, it is very important to realize that papers are a specific thing: they look a certain way, they flow a certain way, they have a certain structure, language, and statistics that the other academics expect. It’s usually a painful exercise for me to look through some of my early PhD paper drafts because they are quite terrible. There is a lot to learn here". One advice I found very practical is that trying to learn to write better papers from reading many good papers and distilling patterns is not the best strategy. On the other hand, if we read bad papers and realize how unclear they are, which parts are missing but need to be explained, how vague and abstract the introduction is, or how those papers dive into the details too quickly, we can learn and avoid to make the same pitfalls.


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