Writing for publication: The basics

image - TR Image 280 2 84
Author: Kate Dolan

Resource Type: Technical Reports

NDARC Technical Report No. 231

Writing clearly can be difficult. However, there are well established standards and rules to follow. If you know what these are and if you follow them, then you are well on your way to writing clearly. It is not possible to cover in this manual all the necessary aspects of writing that one needs to know when preparing a manuscript for publication. Nevertheless, the main attributes of writing clearly are covered. These include word selection, sentence structure, paragraph structure and the sections of an article.

It is also important to point out what aspects have been excluded from this course. Some excluded aspects are how to cite the literature, which statistical tests to use, which research design to use, how to formulate arguments and decisions about authorship.

Believe it or not there are some joys to be had from writing clearly. If you can write clearly you can clarify your own thinking. When you are required to put pen to paper, you can see which arguments hold up and which don't. If you have something important to say, it is crucial that you say it in a way that others can understand it. If you have conducted a study and found some interesting results, the onus is on you to report these findings.

One final note: it takes a very long time to write a reasonable article. A typical article is between 2,000 and 3,000 words, so to get them in the right order is going to take some time. I'd hate to confess how long some of my articles have taken. However, if you keep at it, your writing will improve and you may actually enjoy writing for publication!

Kate Dolan