Amongst the general array of things occupying this last working week has been some academic writing. On this occasion my hand has been forced somewhat by news of a previously submitted paper having been rejected by a journal editor, an event noted earlier on this blog here. So I’ve been putting in some early starts to pick up the threads with an eye on a submission elsewhere.
It interests me how people go about the business of crafting papers for publication. I enjoy playing with words, and am forever toying with sentences in the hope of producing an improvement. I also find it impossible to leave an error in spelling or grammar uncorrected. This means I do plenty of editing as I go along, which I know is not the way that everyone writes. But I really, honestly, cannot abide a page of text full of red underlines. Once I have a good draft I always seek the views of one or more valued colleagues, and listen carefully to what they have to say. To borrow a phrase Howard S. Becker uses in Writing for Social Scientists, I then like nothing more than to ‘get it out the door’. Papers have to be drafted, honed and tweaked but also published. That means letting them go, and submitting to the rigours of peer review.
There are plenty of places to read about people’s experiences of writing for publication, and spaces where ideas can be shared. #Acwri is the hashtag used by contributors to the Twitter academic writing discussion group hosted by Jeremy Segrott and Anna Tarrant. Pat Thompson has a good academic writing blog here. A book I particularly appreciated when I first started out is Philip Burnard’s Writing for Health Professionals.