Professor, Education and Counselling Psychology
Q: What process do you go through when writing an academic paper?
A: One strategy that works for me and I share with my students is to talk about research as if I am telling a story; a story that flows smoothly, and is compelling and interesting. I find mixing thinking and writing to be a very effective and productive strategy. It guides me in preparing an outline. Using different levels of subheadings and a couple of sentences under each sub-heading, I create a trace of the logic of my argumentation. By doing this, I can also check to see if the story I will tell has flaws. The beginning of the story (the literature review) has to lead logically to why I am interested in a particular research question. Once I have articulated this question coherently and have identified a particular theory that I think will help me generate working hypotheses, even before I collect data, I fast-forward the research process in my head. I consider what analysis I might do and how I might interpret findings given alternative sets of results. Going through this process helps me imagine the complete story, from beginning to end, before embarking on the actual task of conducting the research.