12 week writing challenge – weeks 3-8

It has been some time since I wrote the last writing challenge article. This is actually a good sign because the writing worked out quite well. The last six weeks have been full of reading, revising and developing a full set of writing skills. What have I done?

Developing the literature review of the article: The literature review was the least developed part of the whole article. This is probably often the case for empirical papers that are presented on conferences and all preparation is devoted to the data analysis. I started to disaggregate the literature review in small pieces or arguments and went through all existing literature in the paper. To add substance, I searched relevant journals for each piece of argument. Even though I ended up with the same article for several parts of the literature review, this strategy helps to scale down the task of argument elaboration.

The search tool that I use is google scholar. Despite several debates about the usage of professional databases like Web of Science et al., I do not see an added value in those more complicated search tools. Since now almost all online sites of academic journals provide links to citations and references, google scholar helps speeds up the literature skimming process enormously.

Restructuring the article: The next task in the writing process is to work on the structure. The #12weekwritingchallenge book asks to outline a model article that we find particularly good. Outlining means that each paragraph should be summarized in its function and/or content in one sentence.  I did that and I just realized HOW good the article was and why. It became my guiding article for restructuring my own work. The next step was to outline my own article. This again was very good to see where additional work was needed.

The outline is easily done on paper. I printed the article with a 5cm margin and line numbers and summarized each paragraph on its side margin. If you cannot summarize it in one sentence, it is not a paragraph! (How to write paragraphs / by Patrick Dunleavy) Additionally, I wrote a new article outline in note form on a blank paper by hand.

My current task is now to apply the revised structure to the paper. The main work still is in the data analysis part. This get along well with the next task: Revising evidence. I will revise evidence and the conclusion until the end of next week.