November is Academic Writing Month #AcWriMo at Methodspace! The theme this week is: Getting Organized.
When the paper, article, proposal, case study, or book manuscript I am reviewing needs revisions (or is rejected), organizational issues are typically at the heart of the problem. I get lost because central thesis or argument is vague or missing. Sentences run on; paragraphs are disconnected from a clearly stated focus. In an effort to sound like a scholar, the writer obscures important points behind wordy explanations. Motivated to demonstrate knowledge of the literature, writers insert strings of citations or veer off into tangents that don’t support the main points. Perhaps changes are made to one section, but not consistently carried out through the entire piece of writing.
If as a long-standing academic I cannot understand what the writer is trying to communicate, it is unrealistic to expect student readers to grasp the meaning. At this point in the review process, my finger hovers over the reject button. Don’t let this happen to you!
Don’t allow poor organization or lack of coherence prevent your work from being approved for publication.
In week 2 of Academic Writing Month we will explore a variety of strategies writers use to organize their work. The first set of resources emphasizes thoughtful pre-writing and outlining techniques. Other posts this week will highlight ways to use graphic organizers, writing models, and software to improve the organization of your writing process and projects.
Organize your Thoughts and Choose Your Approach
- Before You Start Writing That Paper… A Guide to Prewriting Techniques from the University of California at Berkeley
- Writing a Paper: Organizing Your Thoughts from the Walden University Writing Center
- Structure and Organization from Dartmouth University
For new academic writers:
- Good Essay Writing, Fifth Edition, by Peter Redman and Wendy Maples. Companion site.
- Essay Writing: A Student’s Guide, by MunLing Shields. Chapter 1, Learning and Writing at University
- Writing for Scholars: A Practical Guide to Making Sense & Being Heard, second edition, by Lynn Nygaard. Chapter 1: Introduction.
- I Don’t Know What I’m Doing by Helen Kara.
- Outlining an Academic Essay from Harvard University
- Academic Essay Structures & Formats
- Outlining (Video from University of North Carolina Writing Center)
- Outlining Strategies from the Walden University Writing Center
- Types of Outlines and Samples from Purdue OWL
- Outlining Your Scholarly Paper from Georgetown University