“Papers” aren’t really papers

Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu enhance access to open repositories? | Impact of Social Sciences: “The paper explores other possible reasons for the high visibility of these papers – and one possibility worthy of further investigation is the provision of many papers in HTML formats and not just PDF and MS Word. “

I don’t understand why it’s taking so long for journals to consider the vast possibilities afforded by a move from PDF to HTML as the format for research presentation. And I don’t just mean displaying the PDF as a web page. Journals can’t seem to move away from the idea that a paper should be presented as if it were actual paper, with all the constraints of that format.

We should be able to embed video (e.g. processes), audio (e.g. participant or author interviews) and external links (e.g. relevant blog posts as commentary) in the document, as well as provide access to the raw data in ways that make it easy to export. We could have commenting on and within papers, as a form of “after-the-fact” peer review.

We talk about publishing as a way of contributing to an academic conversation, but journals don’t allow readers to really engage with author/s, other than providing us with an email address. I was excited when I read about the “Article of the future” in 2010, but I’ve been disappointed with the lack of innovation from journals since then.

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UWC writing for publication retreat: day 2

Today has focused on the practical aspect of publication i.e. actually writing, so we didn’t have as many presentations. We began by reviewing some of what was discussed yesterday and adding a few reflections and comments from participants.

Yesterday, one of the presenters suggested the CARS (link downloads PDF) model for structuring an Introduction. Today, someone suggested that that particular model is based mainly on English language publications from the UK,USA and Australia. Some have suggested the OARO model as an alternative, based on a synthesis of publications from other countries:

Open A Research Option (OARO) model

  • Attract a readership
  • Establish credibility
    • Share background knowledge (own research / anecdotal experiences)
    • Justify the need for the research (answering the β€œwhy” question)
    • Present interesting thoughts (who decides what’s β€œinteresting”?)
    • Introduce the general goal
  • Offer a line of enquiry (open questions and explore)
  • Introduce the topic

Remember that it’s difficult to build a model that is based on cross-disciplinary publications.

A review of the writing process

β€œAn increasing number of references in publications may point to a form of academic insecurity”

How well are you telling your own story?

Instead of using pre-defined headings e.g. Discussion, try to highlight the major finding / point and use that for the heading instead

Each phrase should be used to advance your argument. Make sure that the pieces fit together to create a coherent whole.

Writing about the topic begins broadly (macro view) and then narrows to get to the crux of the article (micro view), then expands again to place the results into a broader context e.g. hourglass shape

Review of the literature (because it’s a process, not a thing)

β€œEntering occupied territory” β†’ can be intimidating

Be wary of absolute statements about the review i.e. what it should or shouldn’t do or be

Working with literatures:

  • Locate the work in a field
  • Create a mandate for the research
  • Informs the methods and theorisation
  • Specify the contribution

Learning to speak with authority, adopting a critical yet generous stance to the scholarship of the field, and establishing authority to speak, is an enormous challenge (Kamler & Thomson, 2006)

Find patterns in the literature


  • Chronological
  • Geographical
  • Definitions
  • Genre
  • Concepts
  • Methods
  • General β†’ specific
  • Policy / practice

Try to avoid β€œSmith et al (2000) have suggested that…”, β€œThey emphasise the following…” Rather, try to put your take on their research first, and then credit the other researchers

Trying to convince the reader that there’s an organising mind at work (Swales, 2004)

Literature review isn’t about constructing a thing, it’s a process that’s embedded throughout the article