Professional writer and researcher in the SSH with many years of experience in academic writing, editing and publishing. PhD in English.
Important Tips on How to Write an Article for Scholarly Journals and get Approved
Many students and novice researchers find it difficult to get their research papers approved by journals and this may turn sometimes into a real nightmare. There is no doubt that the world of academic is full challenges and hurdles especially for beginners who lack knowledge of the logic and requirements of scholarly writing. I present in this short article some of the very basic skills and tips of writing that are important for academic papers regardless of their discipline. One has to bear in mind that length doesn’t matter much in academic writing. Hence, I strongly believe that successful writing depends essentially on three factors: originality, quality and economy. In this sense, if you write an article of a few pages properly and adequately, you will definitely manage to write hundreds of pages with much ease.
First Things First
Research papers that are usually accepted by academic journals satisfy the basic criteria listed below:
- To use a myriad of research references and cite them properly throughout your research paper. The used references must be academic, credible and trustworthy. Deciding about the best sources to use and how to select the most appropriate reference is not a random decision. The date of publication of the quoted materials, the reputation of the author and publisher, including the available reviews about the referenced source are some of the criteria to consider when gathering the materials for your bibliography.
- State your argument in a direct and clear manner. That is to say, the main idea you are arguing for in your research. This is simply called the 'thesis statement', or in the scientific fields the “hypothesis”. You have to bear in mind that your thesis statement is not a mere factual information that everybody knows, but a statement that could be tested and falsified. To put it differently, the thesis statement is the core idea of your research that should be made clear to your readers. It is the idea that grows in the course of time and could be changed slightly or completely by the end of your research.
- The topic of your research must be academic in the first place and offers new insights to the readers in a given field of study. Overall, academic topics are not personal stories or narratives. Remember, however, that your topic shouldn’t be overdone, not too broad, not too narrow and could be reasonably exploited. Thus, consider topics that are new, thought-provoking and interesting for the target audiences.
- Avoid plagiarism. As plagiarism is a serious breach and violation of academic integrity, don’t buy, borrow or re-use a paper. Cite all the quoted words and sentences properly. Don’t copy the same ideas and endorse them as yours. Always check and double-check from where you get your information and how to use it in accordance with the academic rules and guidelines.
- Be persuasive in your writing. How to do so? Be clear in your writing and avoid vague or ambiguous language as this would lead to misunderstanding. Illustrate with examples and use statistics whenever possible, be flexible and make some concessions about your views. Show the weakness of alternative solutions to the research problem and the strengths of yours. Keep your writing style simple but direct. And more importantly, AVOID LOGICAL FALLACIES.
- The rhetoric and style of writing should correspond with the domain you are writing for. This is so simply because every discipline has its own unique codes and technical vocabulary. That is to say, If you are a linguist, write like linguists not like a literature person and vice versa. To varying degrees, the overall structure of research papers differs from one discipline to another.
- There is no doubt that thematic structure of the article is seminal, yet there are also other details and technical aspects that should be worked out carefully. Follow one of the recommended style guides verbatim to make your paper look well organized. You may want to use the APA which is commonly used in the social sciences or the MLA in the humanities. The Turabian style is also another alternative that is commonly used by journals.
- Follow the instructions of the target journal in terms of; font type and size, spacing, indentation, margins and justification, italics, underlying, color, to name but a few.
- Keep re-writing and proofreading. Make sure that there are no typos, repetitions, random statements, grammar and spelling mistakes, weak syntactic structures or ill formed sentences. You may want also to ask someone else to read and comment on your article which would help you spot the weakness and mistakes in your article and therefore improve the overall quality of your writing.
Writing is an Art
These are some of the every basic, yet quite important aspects, to consider when writing a research paper. Remember that writing is a process of thinking and recursive planning that requires attention to every single detail. Improvising may help you overcome the “writer’s block”, however, moving ahead in researching the topic and writing about it necessitate a to and fro movement. Other technical constraints of time and length of the article determine the pace of your writing. But there is no doubt that the more time you spend on writing your article, the better it will be.
Writing is a process of thinking and recursive planning
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