Academic Writing Workshop: Part I

I recently participated in the first part of an academic writing workshop on planning to write a (scientific) qualitative article, presented by Dr Susan Frekko. The second part of the workshop will take place in March next year. This workshop covered a) defining the research, b) working with your data, c) selecting a journal and d) drafting the article.

Defining your research

An important starting point for creating an article is to clear define your research. For example, what kind of new information do you provide? does it offer a solution to a practical problem? does it answer a conceptual problem? I liked the way Booth et al (2008) provided an alternative way to define your research, through considering the topic, question and problem. Topic-question-problem statement:

  • I’m working on X…
  • because I want to find out Y…,
  • in order to help my reader understand the bigger and important question of Z..

Working with your data

The type of data that you have determines what you do with it, whether its primary or secondary. Very often, qualitative data will contain recordings and field notes. Field notes are very important for capturing process data (about the methodology/design), descriptive data (observations) and analytical data (“Aha” moments). Coding is another important component for generating categories (descriptive and theoretical) and patterns.

Selecting a journal

It is important to select a journal that aligns with your contribution (article). Some tips for journal selection: look at where your key sources are publishing, as well as their citations; consider the journal index ranking, the scope of the journal, the manuscript “turnaround” time, etc. When writing your article, also consider the style used by authors in the journal.

Drafting your article

Matthew Wolf-Meyer provides a useful set of six steps to write a journal article.

Final takeway: A very useful suggestion from the workshop was to form a writing group with your peers, where each member commits to a weekly exchange of a piece of writing for review. This encourages you to keep writing and enables you to get regular feedback.

References

Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G. & Williams, Joseph M. (2008). The Craft of Research. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.

Wolf-Meyer, Matthew. (2014). How to Write a Journal Article (in 6 steps). N = 1. Available: https://nequalsone.wordpress.com/

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