Questions tagged [writing]

For questions on the process of writing. For questions on the content of writing, use [writing-style].

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126 votes
7 answers
29k views

Choice of personal pronoun in single-author papers

Which personal pronoun is appropriate in single-author papers - 'I' or 'we'? Could the use of 'I' be considered egotistical? Or will the use of 'we' be considered to be grammatically incorrect?
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121 votes
15 answers
118k views

Software to draw illustrative figures in papers

I would like to have suggestions of good software for drawing illustrations in research papers. I already know about Xfig, but this works only on Linux and is at times, clunky when it comes to text. ...
14 votes
5 answers
5k views

How should I cite a website URL?

I am currently writing a report and I have been compiling a list of references (from IEEE mostly) and I also have a number of websites. My question is, what is the best way to note a website URL? ...
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  • 307
35 votes
4 answers
25k views

Can I reuse part of a paper for my thesis?

I am finishing writing my master's thesis (~100 pages) and I also just submitted a paper (8 pages) to a conference. Since both are on the same subject and I am an author on both, is it ok if I reuse ...
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22 votes
8 answers
8k views

Can an emotional letter of motivation be harmful in a PhD application?

Today some of my friends were discussing a motivation letter. One friend's application was rejected. One reason his friends find out is that the letter of motivation is very emotional. So I was ...
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  • 981
73 votes
7 answers
14k views

Why use version control systems for writing a paper?

I am following the advice of @Piotr Migdal in Is there an internet Git-like repository for collaboration on a paper?, and I want to ask about version controls: how beneficial are they (specially under ...
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  • 13.6k
47 votes
4 answers
4k views

Simplest way to jointly write a manuscript?

As with many papers in the sciences, there are multiple authors who aren't physically close to each other. I was curious about the most efficient and simplest way to technically share the writing. On ...
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  • 4,735
30 votes
3 answers
16k views

Dissertation acknowledgements

I'm at the stage in writing my dissertation where most of the substantive aspects are finished and the only tasks left are more or less administrative. However, one thing that I've been avoiding is ...
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  • 400
77 votes
10 answers
6k views

How to write an academic paper for the first time?

While writing an answer to that question, I realized I don't really have a good list of resources that could be useful to first-time authors, like MSc or PhD students who write their first paper. I ...
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  • 71.1k
42 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to find ways to proofread English in papers

As a non-native speaker of English, it can often be hard to spot some of the errors that a native speaker would find. For a long time, I've been thinking about getting a native speaker to help me with ...
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  • 2,452
13 votes
4 answers
88k views

How to cite sources written in a different language than English?

Assume one wants to cite a paper written in a different language than the article citing said paper (e.g., ones own article is written in English, but the source is French). How to properly handle ...
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  • 1,750
26 votes
1 answer
1k views

Getting secondary citations right

I have some questions regarding secondary citations (in an computer-science research paper that should be published in a journal). I know that they should be avoided when possible, but it is not ...
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36 votes
5 answers
13k views

What suggestions should I make when reviewing a poorly written paper?

Since I need a break from the reviewing... Often in my field I review papers from researchers in Asia (reviews are not double blind) which are poorly written. By poorly written, I don't mean that the ...
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17 votes
4 answers
5k views

Are spelling and/or grammar mistakes a cause for submitting Errata?

During my studies I've read a number of published articles where spelling mistakes have somehow squeaked through the review process. For example, I have found a paper with a section entitled ...
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43 votes
7 answers
6k views

Any place for people with fear of writing?

This isn't the best moment to ask the question, since I should be writing an overdue document and presentation. However, is there any place where a person with fear of writing can work? I am ...
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  • 1,033
38 votes
7 answers
1k views

Resources on how to overcome writer's block, especially for non-native English speakers?

One of the issues we have at my English-language institute is the problem of getting our doctoral students to write papers in English. For some, writing isn't a big challenge. For others, however, the ...
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  • 171k
33 votes
4 answers
1k views

How to improve technical writing

Whenever I write an article, I feel the result is not good enough. Although every theorem is solid and correctly proven, something is always "squeaky". The main evidence for my feeling shows itself ...
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  • 7,349
26 votes
4 answers
153k views

What is the standard/recommended font to use in papers?

I looked around but did not find that anyone has asked this before, but what are the fonts that are standard/recommended while writing academic reports/papers?
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  • 563
43 votes
6 answers
5k views

Should I write a paper on open-source software I've built?

I have been fairly active in the open-source software community with a few projects that have gotten some attention. However, my reputation in the academic/publications world is a little bit low and I'...
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  • 1,137
44 votes
6 answers
46k views

Is it mandatory to include the registered trademark symbol ® next to the name of a computer program?

Suppose you write a paper and you use Wolfram Mathematica to do calculations. In the article, should the program be mentioned with the registered-trademark symbol immediately following the name and in ...
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  • 1,079
11 votes
4 answers
33k views

How to reference studies mentioned in a paper without having to read the original papers?

I'm review the literature at the moment. Now I'm reading a paper that mention other studies. How can I reference them without reading the original papers?
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  • 377
9 votes
3 answers
31k views

How do I cite same reference multiple times in a paper?

I am writing a report on CPUs and I need to constantly need to cite technical information from a single reference multiple times throughout the report, specifically the datasheet for an Intel ...
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  • 91
6 votes
2 answers
206 views

How to address dependencies when publishing a chain of papers

In computer systems, it's relatively common to have a large problem which is broken up into multiple sub-problems, each of which is substantial in its own right and is in the realm of different ...
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90 votes
7 answers
47k views

Use of first person in a PhD Thesis

Is there a non written rule to which person to use in the PhD thesis, 5 years of using "We" in the papers have brought me to the innate necessity to do it every time I describe something. Recently, ...
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  • 11.8k
33 votes
2 answers
3k views

How do you "grow your own" post doc opportunity?

I am a finishing doctoral student (graduation in ~7-9 months) and I would love to get an year or so of postdoctoral experience. I've come to understand that a postdoc is generally paid by funds ...
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  • 4,190
45 votes
5 answers
4k views

Writing papers in language X and translating to English vs. writing papers in English to begin with?

I'm working with a group in China, and we were discussing the following question, which I would like to ask here too: Question: Is it better to write a paper in Chinese, then translate it into ...
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18 votes
2 answers
936 views

Conjugation: Do we cite authors or papers?

When referencing to another work in a scientific paper, do we cite the paper or its author(s)? This question is intended to clarify the conjugation of the verb that follows the reference -- ...
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  • 2,641
7 votes
4 answers
2k views

Active or Passive Voice in International research journal, within the field of microorganism?

I have been composing the International journal for microbiology research. I learn that research journal should consist of active voice not passive, but I find that the previous researchers for ...
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0 votes
2 answers
3k views

How much of humor in a formal academic writing is considered as disrespect? [duplicate]

In a formal academic writing (in the everyday sense), is it appropriate to use phrases such as "step out on" to titillate the reader? Since I am not a native English speaker, and since I have not ...
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  • 7,486
85 votes
10 answers
48k views

What are the advantages or disadvantages of using LaTeX for writing scientific publications

What are objective advantages or disadvantages of using the markup language LaTeX instead of a WYSIWYG word processor like MS Word or LibreOffice Writer? Please use objective arguments to prevent a ...
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88 votes
11 answers
10k views

How to train students to write high-quality research papers?

As someone supervising postgrad students, I wonder what is the best way to train these students to write high-quality research papers? The best way seems to be through coauthorship but ... On the ...
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  • 13.3k
77 votes
3 answers
49k views

What's the point in "the paper is structured as follows"?

Inspired by the recent question on list of figures: what is the point of ending your introduction with a paragraph saying "The paper is structured as follows: in Section 1 we do BLAH, then in Section ...
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62 votes
2 answers
19k views

In what tense (present/past) should papers be written?

That is, should it be present tense or past tense? Should there be a difference between the abstract, main body and the conclusion? Does the field of publication have any impact?
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  • 2,142
113 votes
15 answers
31k views

Why are research papers written in language that's difficult for undergraduate students?

As an undergraduate student, I find it hard to understand research papers on any particular subject. Why don't researchers use simple language for their reports, so that everyone would understand? ...
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  • 1,167
31 votes
5 answers
56k views

How to write a Ph.D. thesis Introduction chapter?

I am in the process of writing my Ph.D. thesis and struggling with the introduction chapter, what to cover, what not. This is a technical thesis. The broad area is molecular simulation in statistical ...
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  • 1,253
51 votes
7 answers
5k views

How do I overcome fear of rejection when writing academic papers?

I don't know how to put it. I have never published before. Previously my one paper was rejected, that was because the experiments were not ready and my advisor asked me to still submit it just to have ...
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  • 2,639
42 votes
6 answers
4k views

Is there an internet Git-like repository for collaboration on a paper?

I've just started using git for tracking changes in a LaTeX paper I'm writing, and for collaboration with co-authors. However, I cannot find easily private git repositories with reasonable plans for ...
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  • 25.6k
42 votes
5 answers
2k views

How can we promote better writing skills in academic education?

This question may be too wide or in some perspective perceived as unclear but covers a key issue (for me) in academia, namely, academic writing. Students start their academic career with varying ...
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15 votes
5 answers
1k views

Are there resources for learning how to write a scientific paper?

I have very little formal training, but I believe I have some ideas to share. I have surveyed the terrain of ideas I need and have the complete picture in some haphazard form in my head. It is seeming ...
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39 votes
9 answers
7k views

Does writing matter a lot in research?

I am a PhD student (mid stage) and my work includes the use of mathematics. I try to learn as much as possible. I am facing a problem: I spent enough time on the mathematics required for my research, ...
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  • 1,359
31 votes
4 answers
9k views

When and why a scientific technical report is written?

While making some paper search in my scientific field, sometimes I find articles that are not published in journals or conference proceedings, but as technical reports. In my experience, I've never ...
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43 votes
4 answers
3k views

How generous should I be with citations?

I am wondering if it is a bad thing to cite a paper in a scientific publication for a trivial or irrelevant reason. The specific instance I have in mind is the usage of certain terminology. I ...
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24 votes
5 answers
527 views

Are there any good strategies for conveying the true significance of the results that look obvious post factum?

In nearly any field there is a number of important results which look obvious to experts post factum but somehow are not that easy to come by in the first place (e.g. in mathematics some important ...
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16 votes
5 answers
1k views

What are we expected to do when citing literature?

Open any research article and it is littered with citations. I’ve recently been wondering what is expected of us when citing the literature: Are we expected to cite every reference relevant to our ...
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  • 1,943
15 votes
3 answers
11k views

How to send a research proposal to find potential PhD supervisor?

I am trying to look for a PhD position by contacting potential supervisors through email. I have made a list of professors who I found interesting through searching some papers and their department ...
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  • 3,549
20 votes
1 answer
5k views

How to reuse complete paper for my thesis?

I am currently writing my PhD thesis, and I have published an article together with my supervisor. The third chapter of my PhD thesis (1/3 of my whole thesis) is basically the paper. I plan to include ...
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  • 935
12 votes
3 answers
3k views

What is the general protocol to name something after somebody (some people)?

In mathematics (and other sciences) there are thousands of concepts, theorems, lemmas, etc which are named after some mathematicians (scientists). However, this nominations are not always very ...
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9 votes
2 answers
2k views

How to use copyrighted images in an article?

I have developed an educational software in which I make use of some copyrighted images, for example from Disney, and am now writing an article about it. How should I reference or cite that those ...
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  • 8,685
9 votes
7 answers
5k views

Academic writing software

General-purpose word-processing programs are OK for academic writing. But I feel the experience can be much improved with some specialized software that takes better care of the special needs of ...
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  • 363
68 votes
5 answers
143k views

How to write a strong introduction into a research paper?

How does one write a strong (good) introduction into a research paper? Some introductions make me really curious about the rest of the paper while others do not. Although it is relatively easy to say ...
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  • 2,085