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Some Pointers from a Panel

By Barbara Gastel | July 12, 2015  | Research writing

Greetings again. I hope you’re doing well.

Friday was the last day of this year’s Intensive Course in Research Writing. As usual, an excellent group attended the course. This year’s attendees included researchers from Mexico, a researcher from Vietnam, and people here at Texas A&M University.

The session this past Thursday included a panel discussion. The panelists were 3 Texas A&M faculty members with experience peer reviewing journal articles and grant proposals. One panelist also was an associate editor of a journal.

The panelists provided many good pointers on research writing. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Do some writing every day, so you’ll keep thinking about your writing.
  • When writing a journal article, start with the easier parts (for example, the methods section and the figures and tables).
  • In grant proposals, clearly state the significance of the proposed work.
  • If you’re asked to serve on a proposal-review committee, take advantage of the opportunity. Such experience can aid in learning what such committees want.
  • Use short sentences, so people can understand your work quickly.
  • To help make documents readable, include enough white space. Thus, for example, use an unjustified right margin.
  • Don’t seek perfection when you draft a piece. Just get your ideas down. Then go back and revise. (One panelist mentioned spending 10% of the time writing and 90% revising.)
  • After drafting a piece of writing, read it aloud to help identify items to improve.
  • Have others provide feedback on your drafts. Then revise some more.

I thank the panelists for joining us. I also thank others who helped with the intensive course.

Until the next post—


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