Friday, June 17, 2011

Writing Boot Camp: Week 0/1 Last week I wrote about Sarah Stewart's Publication Boot Camp Wiki. This divides the process of writing an academic paper into a six week process with designated tasks for each week of the programme. What I'm trying to do does not fit neatly into the process as outlined on the wiki because:
  • I already knew what I wanted to write about, resurrecting a manuscript written a year ago which never got submitted for various reasons.
  • I'm working through the process in isolation rather than socially.
Nevertheless, I'm finding the discipline of the programme highly motivational, and I will be documenting it here. The way I am setting about this won't fit into neat chronological boxes, but I will use the stages on the wiki as milestones for my posts.

Getting Ready/Week 0

1. Decide what you want to write about.
OK, I already know this.

2. Make sure you have completed your literature review.
I do already have a literature review, of sorts, but it's a year out of date and may need to be enhanced for the rewrite. The other problem is that there just isn't much literature in the area I'm writing about.

3. Have a look at journal rankings and citation indexes to see which is an appropriate journal.
Oddly enough, this was most helpful. Choice of journal was a major reason why I lost confidence in this manuscript a year ago. Thinking about it over the weekend, I thought I had an improved choice, but when I went through the steps on the wiki, I now feel I have a better one. This has helped my confidence considerably!

4. Decide which journal you want to submit your article.
In some ways, thus was the most significant part of the process so far. I changed my mind twice, but having found what felt like the right fit, progress was smoother.

5. Consider submitting an article to a journal that is open access.
I have downplayed this criterion in favour of what I think is the best journal. My first choice was not open access. No problem, I would just submit the manuscript to the institutional repository. My second choice is going to be open access shortly...

Week 1

1. Critical friend.
Tricky. Possibly the most important part of the process. I don't have one - unless one of you wants to volunteer to be my critical friend for this manuscript? In return, I can offer a reciprocal arrangement if you are interested in trying this for yourself.

2. 2-5 key points.
Obvious, but surprisingly difficult. What is the take-home message?

3. Starting with the conclusion.
Actually the abstract. Sort-of. This was very helpful as it made me rethink the data I have, and more importantly, what I want to say about it.

4. Mapping information and argument.
Tricky (for me). I did sit staring at a piece of paper while trying to draw a mind map, but as ever, it didn't work. What it did do was start me typing, based on 2-3 above.

5. Email study group.
I'm not participating as I'm flying solo on this one.



  1. Hello Alan, thanks for documenting your work here - it is very interesting for me to see how this works in the virtual environment. I don't think the project will work as well when you are doing it by yourself, because part of the process is getting editing advice as you go along.

    I am into my third week with my F2F group and we chugging along really nicely. But I think we're doing well because our F2F meeting are giving us the discipline to keep going. The virtual group I am working in is not working at all well = even though we have arranged to have virtual meetings, we've only got around to meeting once.

    So we'll see.....

  2. I agree, the social element is important. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with the progress I'm making :-)

  3. Hello Alan, here is Week 3:

    I am finding the work that Linda has down with word count to be very motivating. It has helped me break down my writing into more manageable chuncks which I have found to be really helpful.

  4. I know a number of people who find useful for exactly that reason.

  5. I've been meaning to tell is week 4: