• Aishwarya Pothula

My Academic Writing Journey

A few weeks ago, I have started to write my first paper. In this blog, I plan to periodically share my experiences of academic writing.

Even for someone accustomed to writing of some form every day, I’ve come to realize that academic writing can be daunting. Not only because of the myriad rules to be followed but also because of the pressure to lucidly explain hundreds of hours of research into a few pages. If you are a PhD student or a professor applying for a grant, the uncertainty of paper acceptance doesn’t help either.

While navigating this process myself, I want to share whatever ideas/tips/philosophies I have used to progress my academic writing.

Having worked in the marketing sector and being used to writing as an expression to vent, I have the propensity to use a certain set of adjectives. When I showed the first draft of my paper, my use of adjectives was the first thing my professor pointed out. My adjectives tended to be a little on the informal side. I have been working to make my adjective more formal.

As a short term solution, I have started looking for repositories of words/phrases that I can use in formal writing. As a long term solutions, I’ve committed to reading more papers from the conferences and journals that I want to get published in.

  1. Make sure to use formal language – adjectives, phrases. To improve, read more papers in your field or search for directories of adjectives and phrases that you can use. If you like the vocabulary or sentence structure in a paper or journal that you read, be sure to make a note of them. It always helps to keep a personal directory that you can refer to

No matter what form of writing, an issue that haunts every author is the infamous writer’s block. While I too suffer from it, I’ve started to develop means to fight. In my case, it occurs mostly when I have a lot of content and I am trying to organize it to have an effortless flow.

One of the things that has helped organize my content is to talk it out aloud in my native language. I sometimes also explain it, in my mother tongue, to a friend or even to a wall. Though I believe I am fluent in English, there is some unexplained comfort while speaking in my mother tongue. Once I finish speaking aloud/explaining, I write it down verbatim and then polish the content to lend it a formal tone.

  1. When faced with writer’s block in trying to organize your thoughts, speak the content aloud in your native language and jot down verbatim. Work on it, then, to make it of formal style.

The section I find most time taking to write in an academic paper is the introduction.

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