Writing a paper, an overvalued skill?

writing a paper, an overvalued skill?With the publication and promotion of my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’, I am learning a lot about academic books. For example, I discovered that on Amazon there are hundreds of books on how to write a paper: with different names, in different sizes, general ones and specialized in different fields of knowledge, such as social sciences or biology.

Only this fact gives an idea of ​​the interest of professors and PhD students for writing well, giving then, in the process of publishing in journals, greater importance to the writing part of the paper, but this process consists of several stages:

  1. Research activity
  2. Plan the impact (or setting the strategy for publication)
  3. Construct (write) the manuscript
  4. Interact with the elements (journals, tools, editors, peer-reviewers)
  5. Share your publications

I think that the quality of any paper is given by the research activity, methodology used and contribution, which should the center of all this, not the writing of the article. The writing would appear in a second level of priority. In the third place would be networking with editors.

So going a bit further, I wonder if some scientists believe that a well-written paper can fix a bad research activity. In order to not to be too strict, I guess that it could do it in some cases, depending on the editors, peer-reviewers and the type of journals; after all, publishing a paper consists of various activities and skills, as mentioned before.

Leaving aside the personal ability of each academic to write, in theory it is assumed that the content and structure of a paper should be taught in the universities, during the PhD, with the tutor; but we know that this is not entirely true, it depends on our interest. In the end, for improving this writing skill, we need to read other journals, consult books and blogs, and pay some attention to the comments from the editors and peer-reviewers.

The truth is that I had underestimated the interest of scientists for writing well, so I’ll pay to it more attention in the future. And you? What are you doing to write better?

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4 Responses to Writing a paper, an overvalued skill?

  1. My native language is not english, I only stayed a few weeks on english language countries, and I am less interested in the english language since I knew the international language esperanto. So I think that is very important the journal to indicate not-native english language referees to judge manuscripts of not-native english speaking authors. It takes too much effort to write a paper in “good english” (whatever it could mean). Very often I receive criticism on a manuscript that implies to do much more work (calculations, measurements) wihle ignoring the originality of the report. I do not follow that anymore, I perceive that is a cat and rat game with the same negative final answer.

  2. Language is an issue. Even letting aside the difficulties for the single, non-native English author, a great problem arises about the loss of valued and long-lasting national traditions of research. Language is not epistemologically innocent. When my father did research, a scientist was supposed to be able in reading at least French, German, English, Spanish. At the time of the father of my grandfather, a well-read scholar was supposed to know even 12 languages, in order to access “different worlds” of knowledge. Reducing scientific language to English only means loosing different ways of thinking about science – and this erases memories, chances, frameworks that could be unvaluable for scientific progress.

  3. There is also a non-solved question: is a paper published in a language which is not English to be considered original as not to accept its publication in English? Can a referee read in any language to certify that?

  4. Pingback: Writing a paper, an overvalued skill? | Nader Ale Ebrahim

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