Week 8: Introductions and Conclusions

We’re now truly well and good past the half-way point of this twelve-week project. My paper is stronger and my ideas are clearer. I can’t yet say that it’s more polished, as I’ve done quite a bit of editing that needs to be fully sorted out still, but it’s well on it’s way to being something good.

I found last week‘s focus on evidence less helpful than others, which makes me think that 1) I had already made good use of evidence 2) I had incorporated it well with my argument, and/or 3) I have already done quite a bit of work on the paper through the other weeks’ activities that have improved my use and analysis of evidence. Since I had less work in the way of editing my evidence, I was able to play some catch-up, both with the previous weeks’ tasks, as well as with ongoing work for my dissertation.

This week’s tasks focus on opening and closing your article. In addition to the importance of your introduction and conclusion, Belcher also sets tasks aimed at revising your paper’s title – what she calls the “highway billboard ad” – and to look back at the abstract from Week 2 – what she calls the “full page magazine ad” – and the literature review from Week 5 and make any necessary changes there. So, to the tasks.

Week 8 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 209, discuss and revise your title, and start documenting time.
  • Day 2: Read and do the activities on pages 209-216 and revise your introduction.
  • Day 3: Continue revising your introduction.
  • Day 4: Read pages 216 to 217, revisit your abstract and related literature review, and revise as necessary.
  • Day 5: Read pages 217 to 218 and revise your conclusion.

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)

 

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Week 7: Incorporating Evidence

The tasks of the last two weeks — working on the literature review and the paper structure — have been time-consuming, but have been quite helpful in re-shaping my paper for the better. At the same time, between traveling and the amount of work and revision required, I’ve gotten a bit behind (though I have still maintained about 15 minutes of writing per day, so I’m happy about that). So, this week my goal is to play a bit of catch-up while keeping up with the tasks for this week.

In Week 7, Belcher has tasked us with thinking about not only the evidence used in the article being revised for this project, but of the type of evidence used in your field. The aim is to ensure that your article has good evidence and uses that evidence to greatest effect. Because the type and use of evidence varies so widely, not just across and within disciplines, but also between individual scholars, this week focuses on interrogating what can be defined or used as evidence in your field through conversation, and then applying what you learn to your article.

Week 7 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 199, do the activities through that page, and start documenting time.
  • Day 2: Discuss the evidence your article employs with colleagues.
  • Day 3: Revisit your evidence with the comments received from your conversations on Day 2.
  • Days 4 and 5: Revise your paper to to ensure evidenced is shaped around your argument.

*  *  *

What kind of evidence do you use in your discipline or field?

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)

Week 6: Structure

Week 5 was all about situating your article in the existing scholarly literature on your topic. I found it immensely helpful. Not only did the activities make me realize I had NO citations for my theoretical framework or methodology (oops!), but it also served as a helpful reminder about simple strategies for figuring out where exactly I fit in that literature. It was also a helpful reminder that the literature review for my article doesn’t have to be as exhaustive as the one for my dissertation, which narrows down the works to include and relieves some of the anxieties — common, I imagine, to many grad students and early career researchers — associated with the feeling that you have to include everything ever written on your topic lest you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Finally, it forced me to write a lot, and think A LOT for both my article and my dissertation, which is always good.

Week 6 continues our close engagement with the article itself by looking at its structure. As a writer and writing teacher, I can never stress enough to my students the importance of good structure–from the micro level of word choice and sentence construction to the macro of paragraph/section order–to moving you towards a well-written and easily-readable paper. Unsurprisingly, Belcher is of the same opinion and provides a helpful analogy: “You can think of structure as the skeleton of your article: invisible but essential. Without a skeleton, you have a collapsed biomass. With a skeleton, you have a living, breathing, moving entity. With a structure, your article can support the weight of your own ideas” (172). In this chapter, Belcher discusses the levels at which article structure occurs, provides sample outlines for well-structured papers in both the social sciences (quantitative and qualitative) and humanities, and includes a series of questions that encourage you to think critically about whether or not your paper has structural problems. In addition to these starter questions, Belcher’s primary tactic for analyzing your article’s structure — and another thing I always encourage my students to do with a near-final draft of their papers — is to put your article into an outline, rework that outline until you have the article you want to produce, and then restructure based on your new outline.

Week 6 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 185, do the activities, and start documenting time.
  • Day 2: Read page 185 and outline the model article chosen in Week 1.
  • Day 3: Read page 186 and create an outline for your own article; revise as necessary.
  • Day 4: Read page 186 and restructure your article as needed.
  • Day 5: Read page 186 and continue restructuring your article as needed.

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)

Week 5: Literature Review

Week 4, selecting the journal you want to publish in, was a very helpful week. Like Week 3, which forced me to make sure my entire paper revolved around my argument, Week 4 was very helpful for getting me to think about the purpose of my article. I got a little off track with my writing practice, and was only able to write 15 minutes a day four out of the seven days (Can I count writing this blog post as one day of writing?? If so, five out of seven, which sounds better…I’ll go with that).

Week 5 brings us back to the article and focuses on the scholarly literature the article engages with. While I’ll be following the course set by Belcher more closely, my writing partner is going to use the week to check out some articles he’s been wanting to read. This is one thing I’ve enjoyed about the book – you can follow it as closely or as loosely as you like, depending on your needs and the needs of your article.

Anyway, back to Week 5. The chapter starts out by getting you to really think about the type of literature you might incorporate – or need to incorporate – in your paper, and continues by discussing strategies for reading said literature. Belcher then addresses how to identify your relationship to the existing literature and how to avoid plagiarism. The rest of the chapter, and the tasks for the week, revolve around writing thorough and efficient literature reviews.

Week 5 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 163 and do the activities on those pages. Start documenting your time.
  • Day 2: Read pages 163-164 and evaluate the citations currently in your article.
  • Day 3: Read pages 164-167 and identify and read the literature related to your article.
  • Day 4: Read pages 167-168 and evaluate the related literature from Day 3.
  • Day 5: Read page 168 and write and/or revise your literature review.

I’m looking forward to a week of reading and writing. What are you looking forward to this week?

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 4 (Choosing a journal), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)

Week 4: Journal Selection

For those of you who have been waiting in anxious anticipation for the next installment of the 12-week to journal article project, apologies for the delay. This past week of travel and vacation-ing was too busy (sorry, Belcher, it really was!) for me to stay on top of things. Thankfully, Belcher does allow for this, and notes in the introduction that if you have to take a week off, that’s alright.

While the second half of Week 3 was quite busy for me with travels, the 20 hours of plane travel did me some good in getting through the tasks for the week. I spent at least 15 minutes almost every day of Week 3 writing and was able to do all of the activities, including reworking my paper around the argument. (I should note that I’m not totally done with this, and will continue to revise as I go through the process)

Week 4 is about selecting a journal in which to publish your article. As usual, the beginning of the chapter focuses on demystifying the article-writing process by talking about the various types of journals in which one can publish, including a discussion of the types of publications you should avoid. The rest of the chapter, and the week’s activities, is devoted to finding a fitting journal for your article, with activities that have you searching for and evaluating journals before choosing a journal and sending a letter to the editor of your chosen journal.

Week 4 tasks:

  • Day 1: Read through page 112, do the activities on those pages, and start documenting your time usage for the week.
  • Day 2: Read pages 112-118 and search for journals in your field.
  • Day 3: Read pages 118-127 and evaluate the journals for appropriateness for your article.
  • Day 4: Read page 128 and read articles relevant to your own article in the three most suitable journals (chosen Day 3).
  • Day 5: Read pages 129-136, make a decision about which journal you’ll submit to, and draft a query letter to editors and send it.

For all posts related to this project: Week 0 (Introduction), Week 1 (The writing plan), Week 2 (Getting started), Week 3 (Arguments), Week 5 (Literature review), Week 6 (Article structure), Week 7 (Evidence), Week 8 (Strengthening the intro and conclusion), Week 9 (Giving and receiving feedback), Week 10 (Editing), Week 11 (Finalizing the article), Week 12 (Send!)