Tips for writing an academic article
Posted on 6th February 2024 by Shriya Akalu
What is an academic article?
Academic articles are a formal way of writing on a specific topic, generally by professionals who are experts in a certain subject matter. There are various types such as meta-analyses, scoping reviews, research articles, review articles, mini-reviews, commentaries, case series, case reports and many more. These are peer-reviewed prior to publication in a journal. As this piece of information will reach out to the world, it is essential to make it standardized and formal. Here are a few tips for writing an academic article.
Basic ways to improve an academic article
- Choosing a title: A title must always be catchy and draw the reader’s interest. However, it should be complete, mentioning the type of study, the topic of study and it should not be conclusive (should not disclose the results).
- Spotlighting a topic: It is crucial to discuss all aspects of a topic without diverting from it. Many times, we add unnecessary pieces of information and end up drawing a conclusion that is different from the aim. A proper structure should be drafted initially, with topics to be covered and subtopics under it.
- Language used: The type of language used is most important, as the reader should be able to interpret the information in the same way the author has communicated. Therefore, complicating information should be avoided.
- The tenses that we use to write formal writing are vital. Usually, active voice is used, and words like ‘I, we, their’ must be avoided.
- Punctuations: Using punctuation in the right way is essential. When two complementary statements are written consecutively, a semicolon (;) must be used. However, if it is sequential, preceding a list, a colon is used (:).
- Avoid choppiness and repetition: Never fragment sentences too much if there is continuity and use linking words like ‘However, hence, therefore, henceforth’. Repeating the same piece of information using different vocabulary should not be done, as it wastes both the author’s and readers’ time.
- Write to express, not impress: Accurately expressing the topic is more important than impressing the reader with fancy words and ending up not conveying the necessary information.
- Be patient: Writing articles is initially tiring as it requires multiple corrections from the preceptors. However, we might receive corrections from peer reviewers in the later stages after submitting to the journals. Different people will have different perceptions about the writing, hence, each correction should be received patiently and then make changes accordingly.
- Setting specific goals: As already mentioned, writing articles can be time-consuming and tiring. It is important to set goals for the day based on the individual’s schedule to maintain the consistency of the work. This could mean writing 200 words in a day for a section.
- Smooth start: Starters can always initiate their academic writing journey by writing small articles like case reports, case series or narrative reviews as this would familiarize them with the pattern. However, starting their writing journey with meta-analyses and scoping reviews would be a huge task for the beginner.
- Limitations, strategies to mitigate the limitation, and future directions: Adding these parts at the end will add more value to the article, as this reflects the further studies to be conducted in that field and the changes necessary to overcome the hurdles in a certain topic.
The writing process in a nutshell
Firstly, reading the literature on the topic of interest and finding out gaps in the research are crucial. Based on the research gaps, finalize the topic and consider the current needs. Secondly, do a literature review on the finalized topic and analyze its quality by thoroughly reading and interpreting the statistics (this helps in retaining the quality of the article). Thirdly, write a basic outline (structure) for the article, asking the opinion of an expert in that field to make any necessary changes. Fourthly, using the tips mentioned above, write a draft of the topic, maintaining continuity in the sub-topics to draw the persistent attention of the readers. Finally, corrections must be received from the tutors or the experts to prepare the final draft.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in writing
Incorporating AI tools for literature searches, grammar correction, improving vocabulary, and quoting references can reduce the time spent in these areas which could be invested in improving the quality of the content. Here are some suggested AI tools used for writing.
- AI tools for literature search – NLP algorithms, COVID Scholar, Iris.ai, RobotReviewer, Rayyan, Semantic Scholar
- AI tools for writing aid – Trinka, SciNote, Chat GPT, Curie, Quillbot AI, Paper pal
- AI tools for reference management – EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley
The bottom line of this blog is that academic writing is easy to start, but persistent efforts are required to complete it. Various tips, such as focusing on the topic, vocabulary, and outline preparation are essential to complete an article with ease and perfection. However, the writing process involves various steps, starting from the selection of the topic to drafting the final copy for publication. AI will play an integral role in academic writing as it helps in cutting down on time, and that could be used to improve the quality of the information.