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When you come to write your first paper for publication you need some practical method. The following is a relatively simple plan for arranging your ideas in a logical sequence.

  1. Make a decision about where to publish. If the target is a journal check some of the work already published. See if your topic fits. If you decide this is the best journal, take note of style and format. Does the journal prefer theoretical discussion or thick case study approaches? Are the articles structured around robust methodological discussion? How much attention is paid to theory and literature review?
  2. If your work is just descriptive, rethink. What are you offering the reader in exchange for their time?
  3. The article you write becomes a series of moves. How do you move to formulate and present your ideas in a convincing way?
  4. The key processes are: (see Harris, 2006)
    1. Translating the work of others into your own ideas;
    2. Pushing the discussion in the field forward, to say something new;
    3. Using weaknesses or gaps in other people’s work to develop a new

      line of enquiry;

    4. Adopting a suitable authorial style;
    5. Fine-tuning the document.
  5. Work out how many sections your article or chapter needs. If you have written an abstract [this is good practice], you should already know this.
  6. Make a series of dot points in each section: the dots are your ideas. These ideas can be connected later as you use your dot map to see what is missing. As this is a plan you will need to come back to critical texts. Add in book references in italics or ‘journal articles’ in inverted commas; add in ideas in bold text or underlined.

Revising is an enjoyable part of writing. Most of the work appears to be done but there is still the important task of refining. Such refining allows a high chance of making your writing clearer, more precise, and critical. It can also be a springboard for new ideas and insights.

READING Joseph Harris, Rewriting:How to do Things With Texts. Logan, Utah: Utah University Press 2006


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