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Questions tagged [writing]

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

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140 votes
7 answers
34k 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?
Bravo's user avatar
  • 23.1k
128 votes
17 answers
142k 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. ...
112 votes
15 answers
33k 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? ...
user avatar
97 votes
9 answers
19k 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 ...
Ratbert's user avatar
  • 1,005
94 votes
7 answers
52k 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, ...
Leon palafox's user avatar
91 votes
25 answers
17k views

How to respond to "unfair to write English" comments?

I teach mathematics and computing; for example, our department's discrete mathematics course. As is customary for that course, it's used as the first foray into formal mathematics, including a heavy ...
Daniel R. Collins's user avatar
89 votes
10 answers
55k 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 ...
Paul Hiemstra's user avatar
88 votes
11 answers
11k 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 ...
badroit's user avatar
  • 13.7k
83 votes
10 answers
12k 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, ...
sean's user avatar
  • 17.6k
83 votes
3 answers
57k 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 ...
Federico Poloni's user avatar
80 votes
17 answers
15k 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 ...
gman's user avatar
  • 5,985
79 votes
13 answers
24k 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 ...
AnonymousScholar's user avatar
76 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 ...
F'x's user avatar
  • 73.5k
74 votes
12 answers
23k views

Is it OK to generate parts of a research paper using a large language model such as ChatGPT?

Large language models (LLMs) are complex neural networks that can capture and represent world knowledge present in the human-generated text as their weights. LLMs are trained on a large collection of ...
Hassan Abedi's user avatar
74 votes
5 answers
147k 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 ...
mmh's user avatar
  • 2,155
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 ...
seteropere's user avatar
  • 13.8k
71 votes
10 answers
14k views

Graduate student with abysmal English writing skills, how to help

I am a math professor at an R1 university. I have taken up a new graduate student (my n'th for n<=10), who is mathematically quite strong, but whose writing skills are a couple notches below what I ...
TeacherOfMathEnglish's user avatar
67 votes
8 answers
202k 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 ...
cosmicraga's user avatar
  • 1,283
65 votes
13 answers
11k views

Colleague blames me for not spotting typos when I only reviewed the structure and content

I am a graduate student (PhD) in a STEM program. A fellow lab mate of mine asked me to review a chapter (basically the background/history of their project) of their graduate thesis a couple months ...
fractalflame's user avatar
65 votes
2 answers
21k 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?
User 17670's user avatar
  • 2,260
63 votes
11 answers
14k views

How can I avoid overuse of words like "however" and "therefore" in academic writing?

I am in the field of computer science (more specifically robotics), and as I am writing, I must actively avoid using the words "however", "therefore", etc... every few sentences. ...
Ralff's user avatar
  • 1,084
63 votes
6 answers
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 ...
thisischuck's user avatar
  • 1,084
62 votes
12 answers
22k 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 ...
Li.Elce's user avatar
  • 767
62 votes
11 answers
16k views

Co-author uses ChatGPT for academic writing - is it ethical?

I am writing a paper with a co-author. I spent a considerable amount of time (several months) writing a first draft of the paper. I then sent it to co-author asking them to revise the draft and add ...
Dmitry Savostyanov's user avatar
59 votes
8 answers
20k views

Quoting a book whose title contains a racial slur

I'm writing a paper on the Front de Liberation du Quebec; a homegrown Quebec terrorist organisation in the 1960s. As research, I've extensively studied a book by one of the intellectual leaders of the ...
anseltan014's user avatar
59 votes
12 answers
25k 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 ...
Rich Gourderton's user avatar
58 votes
11 answers
8k 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,...
G. Bach's user avatar
  • 721
57 votes
8 answers
11k views

Co-author keeps rewriting the article in poor English

I am writing an article with a senior colleague. Although English is not their first language, they keep re-writing the entire article in their own words. I would not normally care, but the way he re-...
Tom's user avatar
  • 3,783
54 votes
6 answers
25k 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 ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 651
53 votes
2 answers
301k 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 ...
rana's user avatar
  • 641
51 votes
10 answers
31k 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 ...
AJed's user avatar
  • 3,488
51 votes
7 answers
6k 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 ...
user13107's user avatar
  • 2,719
51 votes
10 answers
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 ...
Memming's user avatar
  • 6,377
48 votes
19 answers
13k views

Is there a way to stop students using AI to generate essays?

A friend of mine teaches German at a university outside the EU and has observed a rise of the quality of essays written by students, comparing the same years of study: first-year students now compared ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 4,302
48 votes
10 answers
15k views

Should non-native speakers get extra time to compose exam answers?

Today I met with a student who had plagiarized answers on an exam from online sources. She explained to me with apparent honesty that she had spent too long answering the first two questions and then ...
user avatar
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 ...
bobthejoe's user avatar
  • 4,765
46 votes
6 answers
56k 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 ...
User X's user avatar
  • 1,119
45 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 ...
user3411792's user avatar
  • 1,053
45 votes
5 answers
5k 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 ...
Douglas S. Stones's user avatar
44 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 ...
Jakub Konieczny's user avatar
44 votes
6 answers
6k 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'...
Luca Matteis's user avatar
  • 1,157
43 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 ...
Peter Jansson's user avatar
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 ...
Piotr Migdal's user avatar
  • 26.4k
42 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
Koldito's user avatar
  • 9,056
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 ...
Speldosa's user avatar
  • 2,482
41 votes
10 answers
12k views

Is "flowery language" frowned upon in engineering and STEM related research?

I work in an engineering field (related to AI, machine learning, etc.) and something I found interesting is whenever I use "big words" or even long words like "substantiate" or &...
Coco Jambo's user avatar
  • 1,023
41 votes
7 answers
17k 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 ...
John Smith's user avatar
41 votes
5 answers
16k 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 ...
John Doucette's user avatar
40 votes
9 answers
8k 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, ...
abaa's user avatar
  • 1,351
40 votes
6 answers
16k 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 ...
bobthejoe's user avatar
  • 4,765

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