Monday, February 13, 2017

Writing a peer-reviewed article for the first time and in a second language - how to succeed with both

Guest post by Sassa Persson and Maria Svenningsson

In this blog post we’d like to share some useful insights that have helped us with our writing process for our article Librarians as Advocates of Social Media for Researchers: A Social Media Project Initiated byLinköping University Library, Sweden which was published in New Review of Academic Librarianship.

Being new to the game we started by reading articles about academic writing. We were inspired by the article “Write right the First Time”, written by Robert Brown. He describes the research process in a strategic manner listing eight questions to consider when planning and writing an article:

  1. Who are the intended readers?
  2. What did you do?
  3. Why did you do it?
  4. What happened?
  5. What do the results mean in theory?
  6. What do the results mean in practice?
  7. What is the key benefit for your readers?
  8. What remains unresolved?  

Using Brown’s eight questions helped us to focus and narrow things down to make our research material and work easier to handle. We learned that the research process is seldom a linear process. New ideas pop up every now and then questioning the initial approach. We found ourselves going back to some of the questions many times during the writing process. We also recommend talking to experienced colleagues about your ideas. They can help you think strategically if the writing process becomes challenging or if you just need a confidence boost!

Writing an article takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll probably need to revise your text several times. Avoiding distractions is of course a good idea but don't forget to take a time-out every now and then to re-boost your energy supplies. After the time-out you’ll probably see your text with new eyes.
We don’t need to tell you that writing in a second language is not easy if you're not used to it. Important advice we received from a colleague was to plan and think in English from the beginning. This helped us to not have to translate our ideas and thoughts from Swedish to English. Colleagues are also useful when it comes to proofreading. Do not hesitate to ask people at work to read and comment on your text. Do it several times during the entire writing process. Sure it can be intimidating, but you will benefit from it. Last but not least, read the instructions for authors which are found at the publisher's website. Here you find useful information and guidelines such as which citation style to use and the word limit for the abstract.

Be sure to use social media to disseminate your research. It will help you to reach a wider audience. Ready to write an article? Do not hesitate, just go for it!

We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to guest editor Helen Fallon and editor Graham Walton at the journal New Reviewof Academic Librarianship for all their help.

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