Week 1 of the Academic Writing Month

Or, it has actually been 11 days, but I started a bit late, so this was the first full week for me.

In the previous post, I said I’d be working on three papers and the thesis. I’ve got the Current Study, the Recent Study, and the Old Study. Of the Current Study, I wanted to achieve a full draft that I could send forward internally to others in the group. Here I’m not going to be the first author, but have promised to draft some bits. In the Recent study, we already have a draft but it requires heavy editing and possibly some analysis, and the aim was to be able to submit this by the end of the month. Finally, the Old Study is something I’ve sat on for a while, it’s a part of the thesis and just needs to be spun off as an article.

So, here’s what happened on the first week.

Current Study: drafted a basic structure of the article, and started to write up the results. I was going back and forth between the text and the analysis, and started the week by trying to hunt down a bug in the analysis script, and ended the week by noticing that I had made a mistake in another part of the analysis. So I struggled with the analysis more than I had anticipated and thus had less time to write / draft. I’d say the draft is about 10% done, although as the analysis is now on the final straight, the writing will advance much more this coming week. Also, the first author is also getting on board with the writing, so we’ll hopefully get a lot done this week.

Recent Study: I made some big decisions about the article, and came up with a way to cut down excess text and to make it a more logical and coherent paper. This was mainly editing existing text, cutting down unnecessary bits, reorganising the introduction etc. Good progress here, but I’m afraid the re-analysis of one part of the data might take some time, as getting into an old dataset always takes a lot of time, even though I’m trying to document everything as well as possible. I’d say in terms of writing, I’m up to 30-40% of my total target.

Old Study: no progress here, I left it for after I send the Recent Study to my collaborators.

Thesis: got some preliminary feedback, which was positive. I’ve got ideas as to how to re-work it, and will do that work next weekend.

I think all these writing tasks are very typical for academic writing, the writing part is integrally connected with the rest of the research. Thus of course setting any word-based goals would not make sense. In the Recent Study, the manuscript is now about 4000 words shorter than when I started working on it, and that is progress. In the Current Study, the document is about 1000 words but it has very little apart from just subheadings and some initial sketching. I’ve tried to estimate my progress against what I think needs to be done still, but probably the percentages are not accurate. In general, I’m very glad that AcWriMo exists, as it motivates to keep going. I got nice supportive tweets from PhDForum and a DrWCarter who both saw my tweet on Saturday when I wailed that I only had 45 minutes to write. And I was happy to report that you can actually achieve quite a lot in 45 minutes, and just as in exercise, any is better than none. In that 45 minutes before the library closed, I got through maybe three pages of text that I was editing for the Recent Study. Not amazing, but good progress, and less to do next week.

Thanks for this, looking forward to the next week of AcWriMo!

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