Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Next Stop: World Domination

26 September 2011

By Christina Morin

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer and had a pretty clear (if rather vaguely conceptualized) career plan: pro bono lawyer to Sandra Day O’Connor protégée to first female president of the United States. I’m not sure how sincerely I believed I would follow through on any of it, but I had fun imagining it all. In high school, I briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor or a biologist and was encouraged by a particularly inspiring science teacher to think about a future in medical journalism. I wasn’t too keen on dissection or blood though, so I focused on the journalism suggestion and, by the time I started my undergraduate degree, I knew I was destined to be a famous journalist. Not just any journalist, of course – a foreign correspondent, covering breaking news from the far flung corners of the earth. Unfortunately, an eye-opening stint at the university newspaper ultimately convinced me that journalism wasn’t the ideal career choice for me: I hated ringing people up and asking them uncomfortable questions; I hated the late nights just before the paper ran….   Read more

On Communion Wafers and Time to Think

9 September 2011

By Christina Morin

I’m in the midst of writing a long overdue journal article, and, with the start of teaching looming ominously over me, I’m starting to feel the need for a metaphorical communion wafer to stick to my forehead. If that sounds odd, let me explain: my man Maturin was famously supposed to have fixed communion wafers to himself when he was writing in order to warn his family not to disturb him. Part of a myth of Maturin? Possibly, though Maturin certainly was well known for his histrionic eccentricities. Whatever the case, I’m very drawn to the idea of a specific sign that both attests to my concerted effort – no matter how much it might look like I’m simply dossing or staring off into space – and cautions colleagues against approaching me with unrelated work.

I’ve particularly felt the need for such a charm in the past few weeks. After attending an information session for the European Research Council’s new Starting Grants – mentioned in my recommendations for this month – I felt a growing sense of panic. On the one hand, I wondered, how could I not apply for such a significant amount of money and, perhaps more importantly, five more years of lucrative academic employment? On the other hand, when was I going to find the time to prepare such an application, especially when the instructions alone amount to a dizzying number of pages? As the wheels turned frantically in my head – how could I frame the project I had in mind in such a way as to make it more ERC friendly? Who could I contact to help me with my application? Was there anybody (preferably more senior) with whom I could forge a connection that would make the project more attractive? – I consulted a wise friend who has a habit of speaking reason to me in my (not infrequent) bouts of work-related panic. Read more

Turning your research into published articles

22 September 2010

Contributed by Eoin Magennis

The pressure-cooker world of academia now has two Holy Grails. The monograph has been dealt with by Pue’s before. The other, an article in a peer-reviewed journal, is what I’ve been asked to write about – from the editor’s point of view.

The first thing to say is an obvious point – writing briefly about the topic of your choice is harder than to cover 100 pages on it. Just because this is obvious does not mean that people pay heed. In my five years’ experience of editing Eighteenth-Century Ireland, there is nothing more off-putting than the over-long submission. It won’t mean automatic rejection but if you can’t say what it is you want to say within 10,000 words (including notes) then you are likely to need to do a lot more work.

A second point to make is that articles published today are not what they once were. This is not a case of casting a fond eye back to a golden age of well-crafted articles. Indeed if you go back through old journals you will see how many articles were poorly written, badly argued or both. That said, theses now lend themselves better to extracting articles than they once did, when narrative was more important. Read More

How to turn your PhD into a book: part 3, some first revision steps

9 October 2009

By Juliana Adelman

booksI started this series of posts because when I began the project of turning my PhD into a book I would occasionally type ‘turn your PhD into a book’ into Google hoping for some kind of magic.  Perhaps there was a translation engine I could put my text through to save me the agonising pain of revision?  Alas, there is nothing for it except to struggle on, re-reading sentences over and over until you go numb.  With that for a cheery start, I wish I had approached the process in as systematic a manner as I imply below.  It’s hard to be ruthless with your prose without getting discouraged and if you’re not being ruthless I don’t think you’ll accomplish much by way of revision.  Some people certainly have a gift for writing and the rest of us have to make do with revising.  It is hard work and a bit too similar to psychoanalysis to be enjoyable.  The past two posts on this topic have covered aspects of the publishing process, writing a book proposal and choosing a publisher.  In case you haven’t read those posts, I’ll repeat my disclaimer: my only claim to expertise on the subject is that I have successfully navigated the transition from PhD to book (only once, TBTG).  Now we get down to the nitty gritty of actually transforming your academic exercise into a book with an audience of…well at least a few hundred.  The first thing I did was to start taking things out.

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