This is the last of my TEC summaries and it’s from a session facilitated by the hugely entertaining George Pickering who’s worked extensively with IATEFL and is currently involved with the Leadership & Management SIG (LamSIG).
George shared some practical advice for people who want to write a paper, particularly for those who’ve never written one before.
There was only standing room during this talk. It seemed like George’s reputation had preceded him or perhaps word had gotten out that he was going to distribute some chocolates.
1. Write about something you’re passionate about.
2. Source information for your paper from your own research as much as possible. Quotations are illustrative not demonstrative and you shouldn’t get carried away with merely rehashing the comments of others.
3. Garbage research, garbage paper – action research is the best possible approach for Ts.
4. Find out about publications you can write for like the IATEFL SIG Newsletters, English Teaching Professional, ELTAI Journal, ELT Journal, IATEFL Voices and the TEC15 publication.
5. Research the specific requirements or guidelines of the publications you’d like to target such as word count, referencing conventions, format etc. One way to do this is to read papers from that publication.
6. Plan & start your article as early as possible. The creativity cycle takes time (i.e., decision, opening the file, incubation, illumination, implementation & evaluation). Break down your writing into specific objectives and tasks, use a check list.
7. Audience before content. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
8. Structure your article properly.
9. Use appropriate language. Be formal but not overly so. Don’t overuse the first person. Use tentative language when describing the implications of your research.
10. Include all the references you need to include.
11. Find yourself a critical friend to look over your draft. Someone who’s honest.
12. There is no failure, only feedback. If you are asked to rewrite your paper, pay close attention to any comments .
13. Don’t plagiarise.
14. Celebrate your successes.
It was somewhat unfortunate that George threw in a couple of NLP references into what was otherwise a fabulous talk. I was also puzzled by the reference to ‘Mehrabian, A. and Weiner, M. (1967) Decoding on inconsistent communications. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 6: 109-14′ which he used to support tip no.2 on making “sure whatever you write is evidence-based, not based on unsubstantiated rumour or hearsay”. Surely, the irony of quoting the infamous Mehrabian in an exhortation of writing evidence-based pieces couldn’t have been lost on someone conducting a session on writing papers for publication!
So, I fear I must add an additional piece of advice.
15. Don’t succumb to the logical fallacy of appeals to alleged experts by referencing discredited and dated academics.