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    To save the research literature, let’s make literature reviews reproducible

To save the research literature, let’s make literature reviews reproducible

Last week the Impact Blog featured a post from Richard P. Phelps, in which he proposed that journals get rid of their requirement for a literature review. Arnaud Vaganay agrees with much of what Phelps said, literature reviews are erratic and self-serving, but suggests doing away with them altogether is likely to make science less efficient and less credible. […]

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    To save the research literature, get rid of the literature review

To save the research literature, get rid of the literature review

The literature review is a staple of the scholarly article. It allows authors to summarise previous work in the field and highlight what makes their own contribution an original or novel one. But when those previous studies are misrepresented by an author, or even dismissed altogether amid claims of a “paucity of research”, isn’t the knowledge base in fact […]

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    A scientific paper shouldn’t tell a good story but present a strong argument

A scientific paper shouldn’t tell a good story but present a strong argument

A recent Impact Blog post extolled the benefits of using a storytelling approach when writing a scientific paper. However, while such an approach might well make for a compelling read, does providing an arresting narrative come at the expense of the reader’s critical engagement with the paper? Thomas Basbøll argues that the essential “drama” of any scientific paper stems […]

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    Alphabetical name ordering is discriminatory and harmful to collaborations

Alphabetical name ordering is discriminatory and harmful to collaborations

When multiple authors collaborate on an article, book, or report, the order in which they are listed is important. How this is done may vary by scientific discipline, with most determining the order according to the authors’ respective contributions. But some fields continue to follow the convention whereby authors are listed in alphabetical order. Matthias Weber argues there is […]

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    Writing a page-turner: how to tell a story in your scientific paper

Writing a page-turner: how to tell a story in your scientific paper

People love stories. We watch, read, tell, and listen to stories every day. Despite this, most researchers don’t think in terms of story when they write a journal paper. To Anna Clemens, that’s a missed opportunity, because storytelling is easy to implement in your manuscript provided you know how. Think of the six plot elements – character, setting, tension, […]

Understanding the frustration of academic writers

Have you ever found yourself unable to complete a piece of writing because something else got in the way: a more urgent commitment, a lack of crucial information, an inability to find the right words? If yes, then you are probably well acquainted with frustration, an emotion commonly felt by academic writers but seldom explicitly discussed or examined. When […]

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    Five steps to meeting the challenges of maintaining an appropriate writing voice

Five steps to meeting the challenges of maintaining an appropriate writing voice

It’s often said that to embark upon a PhD you must be passionate about your topic. But when it comes to writing up your thesis, being passionate can seem at odds with the need to maintain an academically cool and objective writing voice. Daniel Beaudoin shares five simple steps to keep the “me” in check; including firstly by recognising […]

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    The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of co-authored research articles has risen markedly in recent decades

The proportion of multi-authored papers in the social sciences has risen steadily over recent decades. But what are the reasons behind such a marked increase? Lukas Kuld and John O’Hagan consider a number of explanations, from increased academic specialisation and more affordable communication and travel, to the pressures of publication and an inclination among authors to spread the risks […]

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    Writer’s block is not a struggle with your writing but with your thinking. Write your way out of it

Writer’s block is not a struggle with your writing but with your thinking. Write your way out of it

Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking. It isn’t a psychological block, but rather the intellectual confusions endemic to the process of communicating sophisticated research. To Rachael Cayley, these confusions are real and can have deleterious consequences for writing, but when we treat these problems as conceptual problems in our thinking […]

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    Book Review: The Digital Academic: Critical Perspectives on Digital Technologies in Higher Education edited by Deborah Lupton, Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson

Book Review: The Digital Academic: Critical Perspectives on Digital Technologies in Higher Education edited by Deborah Lupton, Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson

Eschewing the polarising perspectives that often characterise discussions of digital technologies in academia, The Digital Academic: Critical Perspectives on Digital Technologies in Higher Education, edited by Deborah Lupton, Inger Mewburn and Pat Thomson, offers an insightful and diverse take on the digital landscape in higher education, covering topics such as MOOCs, “flipped classrooms” and academic blogging. Keeping the human impact of these technologies firmly in […]

Six academic writing habits that will boost productivity

What’s the secret to a productive spell of writing? Chris Smith shares insights gleaned from interviews with a diverse group of academics, from which a number of common academic writing habits stood out. These range from the simple acts of scheduling and setting self-imposed deadlines, to both formal and informal accountability partnerships and the use of “freewriting” techniques which […]

2017 in review: top posts of the year

As 2017 nears its end and before our focus is drawn to whatever the new year might have in store, now is the perfect time to look back and reflect on the last twelve months on the Impact Blog. Editor Kieran Booluck reports on another year in which our readership has grown, and also shares a selection of the […]

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    2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on academic writing

2017 in review: round-up of our top posts on academic writing

“Remember a condition of academic writing is that we expose ourselves to critique” – 15 steps to revising journal articles
Before having your paper accepted for publication you’ll almost certainly be required to revise it at least once. For less experienced authors this may not feel so straightforward. Deborah Lupton has compiled a list of tips for authors who have been asked […]

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    Writing a PhD in your second language: seven reasons you’re doing great and five ways to do even better

Writing a PhD in your second language: seven reasons you’re doing great and five ways to do even better

For those PhD students for whom English is not their first language, writing a thesis can be a daunting task and a source of some anxiety too. Katherine Firth has worked with many of these students and as well as offering reasons why they should feel reassured, also provides a short list of simple pointers to help improve their skills. […]

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    Against “reductionism”: envisioning each piece of writing in its own right, not as a version of something else

Against “reductionism”: envisioning each piece of writing in its own right, not as a version of something else

It’s not uncommon for authors to be asked to submit a shortened version of a research article or piece of writing. This, says Thomas Basbøll, is too often looked upon as a problem of “reduction”, of pruning a longer text. Rather, the enormous surplus of knowledge that the longer text demonstrates the author has is a material resource for […]

Materiality of Research: Without End: Documents of Research

What are the parameters of the academic document? And how can its myriad forms deepen and shape the process of being in research? Ahead of upcoming postgraduate symposium Without End: Documents of Research (University of Northampton, 16 February 2018), Meghann Hillier-Broadley and Francis Blore reflect on the generative potential of the various fragments – from post-it notes to notebooks to highlighted texts – that form the material substances inspiring […]

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    Book Review: Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing edited by Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean

Book Review: Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing edited by Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean

In Crumpled Paper Boat: Experiments in Ethnographic Writing, editors Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean offer a collection that seeks to open up the possibilities for ethnographic research by approaching writing as a “material adventure”. As the volume grapples with longstanding questions regarding the ethical challenges of capturing one’s subjects in language, Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani nonetheless finds this a moving reminder of the power of words to enable entry […]

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    Book Review: The Open Book: Stories of Academic Life and Writing or Where We Know Things by Ninna Meier and Charlotte Wegener

Book Review: The Open Book: Stories of Academic Life and Writing or Where We Know Things by Ninna Meier and Charlotte Wegener

In The Open Book: Stories of Academic Life and Writing or Where We Know Things, Ninna Meier and Charlotte Wegener offer an experimental co-memoir that blurs, unhooks and reweaves the relationship between “academic” and “creative” writing, while also disturbing traditional divisions between professional and personal life. The book succeeds in bringing emotion and empathy to academic writing, writes Vanessa Longden, and prompts reflection on personal practice.
This […]

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    “A thesis is written for examiners, an academic book for scholars in general” – the basics of writing a book from your PhD

“A thesis is written for examiners, an academic book for scholars in general” – the basics of writing a book from your PhD

Researchers who have recently completed a PhD will inevitably be considering what route to take to publication. Terry Clague outlines some of the various options, offering an insight into what questions a publisher might ask when assessing a proposal for a research book. Would-be book authors are encouraged to be mindful of the significant and ongoing changes to the […]

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    “Writing sprints” can facilitate collaboration and encourage new ways of thinking about academic writing

“Writing sprints” can facilitate collaboration and encourage new ways of thinking about academic writing

Claire Taylor and Niamh Thornton describe their experience of hosting a “writing sprint”, a time-limited exercise in which academics from many disciplines and from all over the world were brought together virtually to produce an academic article. Despite certain challenges, the writing sprint proved a great way of facilitating collaborations and providing opportunities for reflections on the process of […]

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