General notes for writing a paper

When you have a good idea of the target journal for your paper you need to imagine your reading your paper. What can you assume about their knowledge of what you are presenting?

In essence you are telling a story. For the most part it will follow the typical structure of an academic paper but if you any opportunity to engage or even entertain the reader it is always handy to do so. The typical academic paper is not exactly riveting as a story but you can liven it up with judicious use of quotes and the odd anecdote from your work.

Make sure any abbreviation is explained when you first use it. Avoid as best you can secondary references1. If people want to track the references you use, you need to minimise their work! Both the reference to Jones and Bloggs must be in your reference list.

And remember, every claim you make in a paper must be supported. There are three options:

  • by citing a source or sources that support the claim
  • by drawing upon research data
  • by using logic, e.g. all cats have tails2; this is a cat; therefore it will have a tail
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