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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.

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34
votes
4answers
21k 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
2answers
4k views

How to handle a common misconception when writing a Master's thesis?

I'm writing my Master's thesis in a field where there exists a common misconception regarding the properties of a material, stemming from some papers published in the 80's and 90's and disproved in a ...
32
votes
12answers
11k views

Is it worth it to master LaTeX or MS Word?

I want to know, if I submit a paper to a journal, will they change the formatting of the paper? For example, will they change the position of the tables or the figures? If they change these, then I ...
32
votes
6answers
11k views

How to reduce a paper's size for a page limited conference?

This is a usual problem of mine, I have a page limited conference (usually 8) and my paper is 15 pages long, or in a less dramatic case 10. How do you go about taking stuff off the paper. Do you have ...
32
votes
5answers
3k views

What are some good books to read in order to improve my academic writing?

So I am going to write my master thesis in psychology. It is expected to be of roughly publishable quality since I am a research master student. I always struggled with writing and am often ...
31
votes
3answers
5k views

Citing two authors with the same surname – is it worth noting that they are distinct people?

In the paper I am currently writing I cite works by Bill Smith and Fred Smith. I refer to them both several times, as several of Bill Smith’s papers provide the basis for some of the techniques I am ...
31
votes
7answers
2k views

What to do when a referee wants to criticize someone else through me

A couple of months ago I submitted a paper for which a referee review came back recently, recommending minor corrections. There are two methods to calculate some quantities in the literature which do ...
31
votes
4answers
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 ...
31
votes
5answers
2k views

How to avoid gender bias when writing letters of recommendation?

Finding letter writing guidelines that simply say something like "avoid gender bias" is rather easy. Finding letter writing guidelines that explain what this means in more detail is extremely ...
31
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
7answers
8k views

Should I simplify my writing in a foreign country?

As a native English speaker studying in the Netherlands, I often find myself writing (not published) English papers for a Dutch audience, and I worry I'm alienating my superiors with my writing. I ...
30
votes
3answers
14k 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
30
votes
5answers
55k 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 ...
29
votes
6answers
5k views

Academic pipeline: How many papers should you have under review?

Often I've come across rules of thumb about maintaining active publication record. The advice I've most often been given is that one should have at least two papers under review at all times? What's ...
29
votes
5answers
4k views

Should I cite a really bad research paper published in my small research area?

I am working on a special topic in applied math. We are trying to explore a new and largely unexplored area in our line of research. Our hope is to be the first researchers to have solid results in ...
29
votes
6answers
4k views

My PhD advisor is writing most of an article without considering some of my inputs

We are currently writing a first article with my PhD advisor. The research was mainly designed by him; I performed all the experiments and found a model to explain the results. The article is soon to ...
29
votes
6answers
4k views

How to deal with a coauthor who introduces errors

This situation has arisen a couple of times for me and I don't know how to deal with it: I'm writing a paper that contains formal mathematical statements and proofs. I am very careful about ensuring ...
29
votes
4answers
64k views

What year to use when citing second editions of books

This seems like a silly question, but I can't find a clear answer online. If Dr. Brainiac's Big Book of Science was first published in 1974, but I have the second edition, published in 1996, should I ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

Crippling anxiety when writing grant applications

I find it very difficult to make strong research proposals, where I am trying to convince the audience that my proposal is important (possibly more important than the other applicants'). I write "...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

How to cite earlier work, discovered only at the end, that claims similar results to a recently completed project?

At the end of writing up our manuscript, we discover that there has been another earlier study in a very different context (but using a physical model very similar to ours) that claims a similar ...
28
votes
4answers
21k views

150%, 1.5 times, 1.5× or 1.5-fold

If some measure of quality improves to 150 % of its original value in a study from condition A to condition B, would it be most appropriate, in terms of scientific writing (computer science ...
27
votes
8answers
13k views

How to approach American English vs. British English spelling in a paper?

I am currently writing a paper, for which my title and core problem is spelled differently in American and British English. I don't worry about my professor preferring one way of writing over the ...
27
votes
6answers
4k views

Running out of Algebraic Symbols

I'm currently writing my thesis in computer science. My work contains a large amount of equations to do with linear algebra, data transformations and calculus. On receiving feedback on my first draft ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

How should I deal with a professor whose weak language proficiency is disturbing our paper's writing quality?

I am a first year PhD Student, writing a conference paper with an Italian Professor, very senior and renowned in our field. Every commit he makes to the SVN is riddled with spelling and grammar errors....
26
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it a good practice to end a mathematical equation with a comma or a period in a scientific article?

I have noticed from different published articles that mathematical equations may or may not be ended by a comma or a period (depending on their position in the text). Which is the best practice?
26
votes
7answers
6k views

How detailed should proofs be in a mathematical PhD thesis?

I heard this suggestion from a mathematics professor: In writing a mathematical Ph.D. thesis, it is far more tolerable to be tediously-lengthy than having a gap in the proofs. I think what he means ...
26
votes
8answers
4k views

How to improve scientific writing skills?

What do you do to write better proposals, grants, and papers? Do you think reading books about how to write scientific content is a good way to improve it?
26
votes
8answers
8k views

How is a paper with multiple authors usually written?

I am attending graduate school this fall and one thing that I still could not wrap around my head is that some of the papers are written by seemingly a group of authors (5 people or more). I am ...
26
votes
2answers
2k views

In writing a paper, how far can criticism of previous works go?

What are the appropriate limits when criticizing the previously published work of others that you're citing in a paper? Are there limits with respect to maintaining decorum and decency?
25
votes
7answers
10k views

How common is it to write out a script for a talk? What are the benefits?

I have never written a verbatim script for a talk. I have at times written notes or outlines, but I never read from them when presenting (and rarely when practicing). With enough (weeks) of practice, ...
25
votes
1answer
515 views

Is there an optimum time to leave between writing and self-proofreading?

Having read a number of guides on tips to do when proofreading as well as some questions on this website. They all refer to leaving some time between writing and proofreading. This time can vary from ...
25
votes
5answers
688 views

Issue tracking when writing a paper

When writing papers (and even more - when revising after collaborators', or reviewers', remarks) it's hard to keep track what is done, what needs to be fixed, what cannot be fixed, when opinions of ...
24
votes
6answers
4k views

How do academics find time to write books?

Books covering primarily academic topics, from philosophy and neuroscience to physics and geopolitics, are usually written (not surprisingly) by experts in the field, which are normally academics ...
24
votes
7answers
13k views

Is specifying a minimum word count beneficial for academic writing?

As we all know, during our higher-education careers there have been many professors who have assigned academic papers that require a minimum word or page count in some shape or form. Personally, I ...
24
votes
4answers
113k 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?
24
votes
1answer
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 ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

What are good principles for creating figures?

This thought came into mind when I was reading Points of view: Elements of visual style. While there are a lot of questions on software and strategies to make and edit figures, I am more curious ...
23
votes
4answers
4k views

How should you refer to yourself in a paper?

When writing a paper that discusses previous work by the same set of authors, what is the correct way to refer to it? For example, "In 2012 Fred et al. introduced a third way of resolving the ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Should I apologize to my coauthors for being slow to finish a paper draft?

I am first author on a paper about my research from last summer. Due to a busy school year and a bout of severe depression, I have taken FAR longer to finish this paper than originally planned. ...
22
votes
5answers
5k views

Claiming that the model is the first model of its kind

I read somehere in this stack-exchange that its best to not make strong statements (such as stating the previous method is completely wrong) etc. In my paper, I thought that stating this the model I ...
22
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I encourage my advisor to adopt better work practices?

I'm a second year PhD student. In general I love my advisor, but recently we've run into some small bumps in the road while working on a paper together. He's controlling the "master" copy and I send ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Choosing a title for a research paper

What are the best practices for writing a research paper title? I am looking for some general guidelines. Does one go with short and sweet? Or a bit longer and informative? Should one phrase it as ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Isn't ghostwriting reverse-plagiarism?

Ghostwriting is when an author writes a work and attributes it to someone else. Isn't this reverse-plagiarism (someone taking credit for someone else's work, but with permission)? I'm not sure it ...
22
votes
1answer
7k views

Emphasizing in paper: italic or bold?

I am preparing a paper for a conference in EECS field. (Generic suggestions are also welcomed!) What should one do when he or she wants to emphasize one particular word? Should that word to be ...
22
votes
5answers
416 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
940 views

What causes some students to be selectively impervious to supervision of their thesis writing?

Background In my academic surrounding, we follow the following approach for supervising the actual writing of a bachelor’s and master’s thesis: Whenever the student has written something more than a ...
21
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
4k views

Using slang in a Scientific Paper

We are writing a paper about an algorithm that takes a group of solutions and sorts them by their likelihood of being equal to the one and only 'good solution'. Internally, we refer to this 'good ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it a good idea for a nonnative English speaker to have native speakers help make the English in statement of purpose perfect?

I am applying to doctoral programs in the US. Since I am not an English native speaker, I am wondering if it is okay to have native speakers help make my English perfect in my statement of purpose? ...