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Questions tagged [writing]

Academic writing is intended for a critical and informed audience, based on closely investigated knowledge, and posits ideas or arguments.

110
votes
13answers
96k views

Software to draw illustrative figures in papers [closed]

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. ...
107
votes
7answers
18k 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?
106
votes
15answers
27k 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? ...
101
votes
9answers
18k views

Do authors have to be politically correct in article-writing?

My colleagues and I have recently submitted an article in a biology-oriented journal about a new technological system. While describing the interaction between the different modules of the system, we ...
82
votes
7answers
34k 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, ...
82
votes
11answers
9k 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 ...
81
votes
10answers
33k 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 ...
77
votes
16answers
12k views

Should I learn to use LaTeX to write up a History Masters Thesis?

So I reviewed the "What are the advantages or disadvantages of using LaTeX for writing scientific publications?" question on this forum and am sitting on the fence at the moment whether or not to use ...
77
votes
14answers
22k views

How to get work done whilst feeling crippling shame?

In academic work, when we are writing or have written a paper for example, there might be strong feelings of shame about the work done or to be done. These feelings can get in the way of finishing or ...
77
votes
10answers
10k views

Do Asian authors have a different style of academic writing from European authors?

I'm an Asian student working with a European prof. My adviser told me several times that when he read my writings (our papers), he just wanted to rewrite it. He told me that my English was rather OK, ...
71
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
70
votes
10answers
4k 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 ...
67
votes
3answers
32k 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 ...
63
votes
6answers
8k views

How should I communicate that I do not hold the views expressed in a paper I wrote

I am writing a paper for a class that requires me to write from a perspective I disagree with. To an external observer it may not be clear that I am not allowed to disagree with the premise of the ...
63
votes
5answers
142k 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 ...
61
votes
2answers
17k 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?
56
votes
12answers
20k views

Using nonstandard gender-neutral pronouns to refer to myself in academic writing

I am currently preparing my first formal work for publication, which I am the sole author on. While working through final edits, I've come across a few places where I refer to myself and would prefer ...
54
votes
9answers
14k views

How to deal with my PhD supervisors rudely critiquing all my draft papers?

I'm a PhD candidate in biology about three semesters in. I am co-advised by two young married principal investigators (PIs), who are just about to get tenure. Things were going great initially, as I ...
54
votes
11answers
6k views

How to make thesis-writing feel less tedious?

I'm about to finish my master's thesis on a TCS topic (algorithms). I'm quite happy with my results; the most engaging part of the thesis was grappling with getting up to speed on the state of the art,...
51
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
47
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
47
votes
8answers
141k views

What is the difference between Abstract, conclusion and summary?

The above question is self explanatory, still I would like to break it into two parts. Q1. What is the difference between abstract and summary/conclusion? Q2. What is the difference between summary ...
46
votes
9answers
3k views

How do I improve my rewriting and editing skills?

When writing academic papers, I am really bad at improving what I have already written. I have heard that most of the time writing should be allotted to revisions. I know a few academics who are ...
45
votes
9answers
19k views

The use of words such as “clearly”, “obviously” etc. in a technical paper

Is there any hidden rule for using the words "clearly", "obviously" or similar ones in a technical paper? It can be offensive to the readers in many cases (especially in mathematical proofs), since ...
45
votes
2answers
173k views

How to avoid the repetition of “I” while writing a cover letter for an academic job?

I use active voice for cover letter and while doing that I end up with too many "I" and most of the sentences in my letter also begin with "I". This makes my letter quite boring. I would appreciate if ...
44
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
43
votes
7answers
11k views

Is using the phrase “… is left as an exercise for the reader” considered good style in academic papers/theses?

Possible arguments: Pro For brevity for trivial deductions Contra Looks like the writer could not be bothered to write an extensive explanation Definition of what is trivial to which reader and ...
42
votes
5answers
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 ...
41
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
40
votes
4answers
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 ...
40
votes
6answers
9k views

What to check when examining paper proofs?

When you receive a paper proof and review it prior to publication, what exactly should you be looking for? The things that come to mind are any changes in the annotation of author list and the ...
40
votes
6answers
30k 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 ...
39
votes
7answers
10k views

Is it wrong to start your abstract with a question?

My abstracts starts with three specific questions that my proposed research will answer. But when my friend saw this, he said: "I will never start an abstract with questions, and I will never read ...
39
votes
8answers
5k views

How to write papers efficiently when English isn't my first language?

I am a PhD student from China. I can read papers relatively fast and get the main point. The problem is that I cannot write efficiently. I don't know how to express myself or I forget the appropriate ...
39
votes
6answers
4k 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'...
39
votes
4answers
3k views

Collaborative paper-writing with non-LaTeX-using colleagues

Background: I work in a field where the use of LaTeX is common but still far from universal. So far I have been lucky in that all my coauthors in the past have been fellow LaTeX users, so ...
38
votes
6answers
10k views

Is it OK to publish a book as an undergraduate?

I am a CS student at 4th year in my university. I have done a lot of real-world projects, worked as a freelancer for many years, and have released a lot of software in use by thousands of people. I ...
38
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

Choosing the title of a paper: are provocative titles better?

I am currently working on a paper that challenges some long-standing practices within my field, but am questioning how to title the paper. Basically, the old view in the research field is "we do Y ...
37
votes
11answers
24k views

What are the key features of a short (15 min) conference presentation?

I am preparing to give a conference presentation from scratch. What is an effective ratio of introduction / methods / results / conclusion slides? How can I balance the details of research without ...
37
votes
4answers
3k views

Citing different papers which use different notation for the same concept,

Not sure if this is the place to ask about this. But for lack of knowledge of a better resource, I turn here. When citing papers which use the different notation for the same model, is it better to ...
37
votes
5answers
3k views

How should one interpret a requirement that a proposal in pure math be “jargon-free?”

I'm applying for a fellowship wherein they ask for a long proposal about what I'm working on (a PhD thesis in pure math). Then they advise me that some of those evaluating me will be from non-math ...
36
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
35
votes
9answers
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, ...
34
votes
5answers
9k views

How can I provide proof that my paper has been proofread by a native speaker?

I have submitted my manuscript to a journal. After several weeks the editor sent me the comments of two reviewers. The editor said that "the authors should provide proof that the paper has been ...
34
votes
7answers
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 ...
34
votes
5answers
146k views

How can I cite the same reference in successive sentences?

I've just read a paper that cited the same reference in two successive sentences: This is the first sentence (xxxx 2013). This is the second sentence (xxxx 2013). Up until now, I would have ...
34
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
20k 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 ...
33
votes
10answers
16k views

Writing someone else's master's thesis: Unethical and illegal?

It is really difficult for me to decide on this situation: when someone calls me and asks for work-for-hire for his/her thesis. I don't know what to do. I want to help and earn money but I think this ...