Image: You know what you’re walking into. © Gary J. Wood via flicrk.com, CC BY-SA 2.0
This is a joint post (argument and rejoinder) from Steve Heard and Simon Leather. You can find it on either of their blogs.
Should a paper title tell you what the paper is about? Yes, but not the way Simon thinks.
Steve opens with – A few weeks ago, Simon Leather blogged about one of his writing pet peeves: “titles of papers that give you no clue as to what the paper is about”. I read this with great interest, for a couple of reasons – first, Simon is consistently thoughtful; and second, I’m terrible at titles and need to learn as much about good ones as I can! Much to my surprise, I found myself disagreeing strongly, and Simon was kind enough to engage with me in this joint post.
I don’t mean that I disagree that a paper’s title should tell you what it’s about. That’s exactly what a good title does! My disagreement is, I think, more interesting. Simon offered some examples of titles he scored as failing his tell-you-what-it’s-about criterion, and some he scored as passing. I found myself scoring those examples exactly the opposite way: the ones that failed for him, succeeded for me; and vice versa.
What gives? Well, most likely, I’m just wrong. Continue reading
Image: Puzzle pieces CC0 via pxhere.com
Well, not just me, of course. I co-organized* a conference (this one). Still.
So, quick post this week – as I write, I’m procrastinating some last-minute tasks; and when this posts, I’ll be on the conference centre floor putting out (hopefully metaphorical) fires.
Here’s what I learned organizing a conference (and it won’t surprise any veteran of the task): the task is much, much bigger than you think; and even after you’ve adjusted what you think because you know it’s much, much bigger than you think, it’s still much, much bigger than that. Continue reading
Image: Proofreading marks, by volkspider via flickr.com, CC BY 2.0
Like many of us, I suspect, I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I love having written. And I enjoy certain kinds of writing and certain parts of the writing process (oddly, I really like shortening things; even more oddly, I just added this parenthetical that lengthens this paragraph). Other kinds of writing (Gantt charts, anyone?) I dislike; and there are a few parts of the writing process that I truly despise. Checking proofs? I’d rather remove my own gallbladder with a rusty spoon. Continue reading
Image © Sasquatch I via flickr.com, CC BY 2.0
This is a guest post by Katie Grogan. Her Twitter thread on this topic got lots of traction, but Twitter threads are a bit ephemeral, so I invited her to share her experience and advice here.
Disclaimer: These opinions are my [Katie’s] own, garnered from research and experience. But people aren’t the same, and what works for me may be the worst strategy for you. Remember that as you read.
A few weeks ago, inspired by graduate students struggling to write, I shared some hard-won writing experience in a Twitter thread. A week later, it was still accumulating likes (>2.7k) and retweets (>1k); and I received >100 requests to join the Writing Support Slack group I mentioned. Apparently, a LOT of graduate students, postdocs, and faculty identified with how HARD it is to write. And that’s the truth – academic writing is incredibly difficult. Anyone who seems able to dive into a manuscript without anxiety, stress-eating, procrasti-cleaning, or hand wringing is either lying or a survivor of an earlier, stress-ridden period in their writing lives that you missed seeing. Continue reading