Writing workshop

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Information about Writing workshop

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: wan1mar

Source: slideshare.net

Title of Workshop: From Research Paper to Manuscript Organization: Caribbean Journal of Psychology (CJP) Facilitator & Author: Marina Ramkissoon, Co-Chief Editor, CJP Event: UWI Mona Annual Psychology Conference Date: March 6th, 2014 Time and Venue: 1.30 – 3 pm, FSS Conference Room

Table of Contents Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3 Preamble ................................................................................................................................................... 3 Why publish? ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Common burdens and fears about the publication process .................................................................... 4 - Mystery ......................................................................................................................................... 4 - Long, never ending journey .......................................................................................................... 4 - It’s lonely ....................................................................................................................................... 4 - It’s daunting and I don’t think I can do it ...................................................................................... 4 - It’s not perfect............................................................................................................................... 4 - It’s too hard ................................................................................................................................... 4 Assumptions for this workshop ................................................................................................................ 4 Objectives of this workshop...................................................................................................................... 4 Hand-outs.................................................................................................................................................. 4 Exercise 1 .................................................................................................................................................. 5 Sources of information ............................................................................................................................. 5 Other things to consider ........................................................................................................................... 5 Questions to consistently ask along the way ............................................................................................ 5 Abstract checklist ...................................................................................................................................... 6 Introduction checklist ............................................................................................................................... 6 Method checklist....................................................................................................................................... 7 Results checklist ........................................................................................................................................ 7 Discussion checklist................................................................................................................................... 7 Worth publishing?..................................................................................................................................... 7 Exercise 2 ...................................................................................................................................................... 8 STEP 1: selecting a journal ............................................................................................................................ 8 STEP 2: looking at your results first .............................................................................................................. 8 STEP 3: cut and paste your research questions and hypotheses.................................................................. 9 STEP 4: cut and paste your current literature............................................................................................... 9 STEP 5: align literature with research questions/ hypotheses, methodology and results ......................... 10 STEP 6: discussion, conclusion, abstract, title............................................................................................. 10

Introduction Preamble If you’re like me, you probably do a fair amount of searching for tips on writing manuscripts – rules, guidelines, resources etc. Generally these sources are useful and provide information so that we understand what to do. Most times however, we’re left with the feeling that we don’t know HOW to do it – HOW to convert the research paper into the manuscript. We lack confidence that we can actually do what we have learned needs to be done. What we therefore need, is practice. The only solution is to get started. You won’t gain the experience you need without starting the process. Your confidence should grow with practice and with the feedback you may obtain from others. Sometimes we can’t initiate the process because we have too many unanswered questions or doubts, or we have not clarified our point of view for ourselves. It is not a ‘right or wrong’ situation and the process of writing helps us to achieve more clarity. It is unrealistic to think that we can clarify all the questions before we’ve actually started writing. Carefully note the questions you have, and address them one by one. The most powerful tool you have is your ability to think, create and investigate. Rather than rely on new literature or guidelines, exercise your capacity for logical thought and figure out exactly what you want to say and why. This usually leads to the greatest amount of clarity and makes the writing process much easier. You must have a point of view. Your article is your voice - your stance that you’re sharing with the academic community. It bears your name and your reputation is tied to it, perhaps forever. Don’t be sloppy – be as accurate as possible. Your article is a piece within a larger body of literature. Therefore it must fit with the other parts in a logical way. It must carry the conversation about the topic area forward. Why say it if it’s not adding value to what we already know? Why publish? Among other things, publishing your work can bring exposure and assist with promotions. - Other people will cite your work Newspapers may reference your work You may present published work at conferences You may make guest appearances on television based on your published research You might get a book deal and become an expert in your field after publishing prolifically in your field Promotions in academia are usually based on the number of journal articles you have published, among other things 3

- You may be more eligible for grants and awards based on your publications You may also be more eligible for leadership roles and to run research centres Common burdens and fears about the publication process - - - Mystery – the publication process can by mystifying and filled with ambiguity and uncertainty. This is okay though! You’re just starting to clarify what you’re saying so you’re bound to have questions upfront. The best thing to do is write down all the questions and systematically search for the answers. Long, never ending journey – it doesn’t have to be that way if you projectize the work. Set timelines and tasks to take you to the end of the journey. It’s lonely – it doesn’t have to be. You can seek feedback and collaborate with potential coauthors. It’s daunting and I don’t think I can do it – we all felt this way when we started. Our confidence grew when we practiced. Take it on as a challenge. Each person has a set of strengths and weaknesses – admit your weaknesses and get appropriate help. Technical competencies alone won’t get you through this. Confidence and optimism are necessary. It’s not perfect – it never is! It is unrealistic to expect that your manuscript will be flawless when you submit. Keep thinking that writing must involve a series of revisions. It’s too hard – it is hard work! Don’t kid yourself that it’s not. Realistic expectations may help you decide how much effort is really required to produce high-quality work. Assumptions for this workshop - The audience is mostly interested in converting quantitative empirical studies into manuscripts They have all done a significant piece of work at the graduate level They’re interested in submitting to a peer-reviewed psychology journal which follows the APA publication manual’s guidelines Authors need to focus on the macro-structure first, then the micro-structure, of the conversion process Objectives of this workshop 1. Provide answers to typical questions about the conversion process. 2. Provide guidelines, tips and steps in preparing a manuscript for publication. 3. Demonstrate some steps in the conversion process. Hand-outs 1. Copyediting checklist 2. IMRAD checklist 4

Exercise 1 Please introduce yourselves to the participants by answering one or more of the following questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What do you hope to publish? What have you published? What help do you need? What do you need to know the most? How confident are you that you can produce a high-quality manuscript? What have you tried to publish and what feedback did you receive? Beyond today, what can CJP do to help you publish? Sources of information - Preparing Manuscripts for Publication in Psychology Journals: A Guide for New Authors, APA American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. CJP writing services (contact editors) Other things to consider - Copyright Self-plagiarism Authorship: who did actual work? Was it substantial? Acknowledgements Title and key-words Meta data Reputation of the journal – Indexed? Impact factor? Rejection rates? Questions to consistently ask along the way You want to ensure that your manuscript doesn’t have some fundamental flaws (based on Bartol, 1983, cited in APA new author guide): - Is my literature review adequate, current and relevant? If most of the citations are 10 years and older, it’s a problem Is my introduction clear? Will people, after reading it, know exactly what my study aims to do (purpose) and why (rationale)? Are my research questions and hypotheses clear and lead logically from my literature? Is my sample described sufficiently? (see checklist) Is my methodology sound and adequately described? (see checklist) Are my measures described? (see checklist) Are my analyses appropriate and described sufficiently? 5

- Is my discussion about my data or have I gone off on a tangent or made inferential leaps? Is my writing style ok? Is my paper too long? If you don’t have favourable responses to the following, you may have a lot of work to do: 1. Am I contributing new information to the body of work in this field? How is my work different from what is presented in the other papers? 2. Is my work sufficiently integrated with the past literature? 3. Was my research paper or thesis good to begin with? Is it worth publishing? 4. Is my methodology sound? Is my sample size appropriate for the analyses? Did I do the right statistical tests and interpret the results correctly? Were my measures reliable and valid enough so that the readers can have confidence in the results? Were my procedures ethical? Can my procedures be replicated? 5. Did my review of the literature lead logically into my research questions/hypotheses and methodology? 6. Have I drawn the best conclusions from my study? 7. Is my discussion based on actual results or something I’ve imagined to be true? Abstract checklist - Participants and their characteristics Instruments Results Introductory line about the problem Implications and conclusions Methods and research design Research purpose Introduction checklist - I clearly stated the rationale for the study Current status of the literature related to my topic is outlined I clearly set the stage for the specific purpose of my research I indicated gaps in the literature which are tied in to the purpose of my study My literature leads directly to my research questions and methodology All the variables and relationships relevant to my purpose are adequately addressed in my literature 6

Method checklist - My research design is clear and justified My sample design is clear and justified I have described the most relevant characteristics of my participants (age, gender etc.) My sample size is clear and justified I have operationalized all relevant variables and defined them My data collection procedures are clear I have considered ethical requirements and addressed them For my measures I have outlined adequately 1. Reliability information 2. Scale authors and references 3. Validity information 4. Any changes I made to the items 5. The subscales and their interpretations 6. The number of items per subscale 7. The scoring method 8. The scale of measurement 9. The anchors for the scales Results checklist - I have reported my results accurately by interpreting the statistical tests and presented the important information so that the readers can interpret themselves (statistics, p values, etc.) All tables and figures are necessary, non-repetitive and clearly labelled Discussion checklist - I directly discussed my specific results I have not made any inferential leaps I have explained all anomalies in my data I have discussed the limitations of the study (internal validity, poor measures, sample size etc.) I have discussed the implications of my results I have made recommendations for future work Worth publishing? Your work may be worth publishing if: 7

- No one has explored the same purpose, research questions or hypotheses you have, in the same way It is relevant The data are not too outdated such that the phenomenon may have changed over time The methodology is sound and therefore replicable and produces reliable results It raises questions about past research Not all research is suited for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. You may also consider magazines, book chapters, newspapers, blogs, technical reports etc. Assuming your study is worthy of publication, you can take some of the following steps. Exercise 2 STEP 1: selecting a journal Look at your references to see where authors of the most relevant papers have published their work. These may be your top picks. If your work is very different, you may need to look at the mission statement of different journals to determine which one will accept your work. Your thesis may be separated into multiple articles, so you may be searching for a variety of outlets. Look at the journal’s specific requirements such as their submission deadlines and guidelines, including ethical requirements, before you make a decision. STEP 2: looking at your results first Read over the results section of your thesis. Is there anything worth reporting to the academic community there? Did I answer any important questions? Has someone already published these results while my paper sat gathering dust? Sometimes some of the results you produced in your thesis are not all integrated with your research questions and it may be possible for you to produce an article on these secondary results. Usually however, you should focus on publishing your first article from the thesis based on the specific research questions and hypotheses you outlined. Sometimes you can get three or four articles out of one thesis but be very careful NOT to spilt the thesis into too many smaller, less significant papers – cookie cutter approach. One great article is much better than 3 less significant smaller papers (depends on who you ask). A key point here is to really think about what your results say, and what they could say. After reading through your results and thinking about what is significant about 8

them, decide on how may papers you may produce then cut and paste the results into separate documents, giving each document a tentative title. STEP 3: cut and paste your research questions and hypotheses Based on the results you selected, the research questions may or may not be relevant. If they are, insert them into the new document. If they are not relevant, draft some new ones in the new document immediately. They can be refined later on. STEP 4: cut and paste your current literature This may sound crude, but converting a thesis must begin with some chopping of parts here and there as well as reintegrating other parts. You will refine these parts much later on in the process. You’re first trying to create the macro picture and the basic story line before refining it. Each paragraph has a unique point to make. Read each paragraph and decide if it speaks to the results you’ve selected. If so, paste it into the new document, titling it ‘Introduction’. Questions such as ‘should I read more?’, ‘are my sources dated?’ are relevant here. Use what you have first however, before reading more. After you’ve cut and pasted this section, you should spend considerable time reading through the results and determining if the literature you have reviewed corresponds with the results. Is there a story being told by the results that is explained by the literature you have reviewed? You should perhaps approach this with logic – e.g., if the literature I’ve reviewed says that X is positively related to Y, then the results should show a positive correlation between these variables. If the results are showing that there are more bears than snakes in the forest, then the past studies I read should have led me to expect this result. Most the studies I read showed that pollution is predicted by the number of cars on the road, and this corresponds with the results of the regression analysis. If you’re not finding this correspondence, you will need to do more reading. The paragraphs should generally follow this logic: - This is the problem I’m studying This is why it’s important This is some background on the problem (statistics, etc.) These are the specific variables I’ve identified in the larger problem Here is how I define the variables and their relationships to each other using some theoretical frameworks This is what others have found about the specific relationships or differences I’m interested in These are the gaps I’ve found in what others have done, either empirically, theoretically, methodologically etc. Based on what has gone before, here is what I expect to find (or not, sometimes our expectations are limited) 9

- Here is what we still don’t know Hence my research questions and/or hypotheses And the way I have designed my study is appropriate for the variables as I have defined them STEP 5: align literature with research questions/ hypotheses, methodology and results One of the fundamental flaws in a manuscript is the lack of alignment between these parts. Pay extra attention to the integration of how the literature led you to ask certain questions, design a study to answer these questions, and how your results were displayed and discussed. Select the relevant parts of the methodology from the thesis and paste them into the new document under the relevant labels. STEP 6: discussion, conclusion, abstract, title The discussion and conclusion will be written after you’ve decided on the results, literature and methodology. The abstract is written last. The preliminary title may also be refined at this point. Make the title search-friendly. That means that you should imagine what someone who is searching for your type of work on the internet would type into the browser, and use some of those words in the title. You also need to put in key words, and the same rule should apply in selecting the key words. These 6 steps can be considered the macro-steps in the conversion process. For the refinement of the macro-structure you have created, you have to now focus on: - Copy-editing Proof-reading Those are the subject of another workshop! 10

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