How to Write a Lot – part 2

In a previous post I spend some time talking about, and then quoting from, the following:

Silva, P.J . (2007). How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Here are some additional quotes I highlighted during my read:

  • “The Results section describes your analyses.”
  • “Report only the results that bear on your problem.  Bad Results sections are long lists of numbers and statistical tests; good Results sections create a story”
  • “Third, use tables and figures to reduce the clutter of numbers that afflicts most Results sections.”
  • “Also, cite your past work in your new manuscripts.  Self-citations strike some writers as shameless self-aggrandizement.  I’ve met writers, invariably beginners, who were reluctant to cite themselves.  Citing your past work connects your latest article with your stream of work>”
  • “Regardless of how you submit your manuscript, you’ll need to write a cover letter to the editor.  Some people write  a simple, standard letter: others write an extended exegesis on the merits and importance of the manuscript.  I asked some friends who have edited major journals about their preferences.  They unanimously preferred a simple letter the the essential boilerplate: the name of the manuscript, the author’s mailing and electronic addresses, and the standard assurance that the manuscript isn’t under review elsewhere and that the date were collected according to the field’s ethical standards.”
  • “The decision can take three forms: The manuscript has been accepted, the door is open for a resubmission, or the door is closed.”
  • “Should you write a brief letter that highlights the major changes, or should you write a comprehensive list of all the changes?  My informal survey of journal editors found unanimous support for lengthy, detailed resubmission letters.”
  • “Set deadlines for your coauthors when you give them the first draft.”
  • “The worst review articles string together descriptions of other articles.”
  • “It’s deflating to run out of easy parts, so tackle the chapters in order.”
  • “You can’t introduce a book that you haven’t read, so wait to see what you wrote before saying what you’ll write.”

I fully expect I’ll read this book again, probably over winter break as I begin to work on my dissertation proposal in earnest (fingers crossed) and/or next summer.  It didn’t take all that long to read and, even though some stuff did not apply, I found some of it useful.

Here are some of the things I’ll be looking for as I review future papers.  When I’m writing, I’ll certainly refer back to this blog posting

  • Search for each instance of “to be” and try to replace it with a dynamic verb.
  • Seek out “ive”s – for example, replace “to be reflective of” with “to reflect”
  • Negate a “not” with a verb
  • Avoid “However”, “For instance”, and “For example” at the start of a sentence
  • “Delete veryquitebasicallyactuallyvirtuallyextremelyremarkable,completelyat all, and so forth”

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