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How NOT to Write an Academic Paper?. Nguyen Xuan Hoai, Hanoi University. Outline. Who am I? Why your papers get rejected? Common pitfalls in writing paper: Ethical aspect. Presentation aspect. Language aspect. Response to reviewers. Briefs about me.

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how not to write an academic paper

How NOT to Write an Academic Paper?

Nguyen Xuan Hoai, Hanoi University

outline
Outline
  • Who am I?
  • Why your papers get rejected?
  • Common pitfalls in writing paper:
    • Ethical aspect.
    • Presentation aspect.
    • Language aspect.
  • Response to reviewers.
briefs about me
Briefs about me
  • I come from the computer science background, working at the IT R&D Center, Hanoi University.
  • My publication count is around 80 (27 was published with Springer!)… not including many rejected ones!
  • I have reviewed hundreds of academic papers for prestigious academic conferences and journals in my field of study (including – IEEE Trans on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE Trans on Neural Networks, IEEE CEC, ACM SIGEVO GECCO, EuroGP, ….)
disclaimer
Disclaimer
  • I will be more focused to publication in natural sciences (in particular Computer Science).
  • I do not try to over-generalize but only use my experience; everything said might have counterexamples.
  • I give some examples of my own and others without any mean to offense.
  • The list of common pitfalls in paper presentation is far from complete!
so after a long period of hard working you have decided to submit an academic paper
So after a long period of hard working, you have decided to submit an academic paper …

And wait ….

most common reasons for papers get rejected
Most common reasons for papers get rejected
  • Does not fit the scope of journal or conference.
  • Does not make any contribution to the knowledge of the field.
    • Lacking of new ideas/results.
    • Solving insignificant problems.
  • Does not meet the ethical standards.
    • Originality.
    • Ethical issues of research problems.
most common reasons for papers get rejected1
Most common reasons for papers get rejected
  • Research contents are weak
    • Literature review is inadequate.
    • Methodological problems.
    • Data/samples are problematic.
    • Insufficient statistical analysis.
    • Misinterpretation of the results.
    • Reproducibility of the results.
  • The paper is poorly written.
  • Does not follow the journal’s guidelines for presentation.
badly written papers
Badly Written Papers
  • Misconception:

“My paper should not be rejected as long as the results (contents) are good” ….

  • The truth is:

“Many papers have been rejected for they are badly written”

common pitfalls in writing papers
Common Pitfalls in Writing Papers

Ethical Aspect:

  • Plagiarism
    • Any text in the paper.
    • Tables, figures.
    • Zero tolerance.
  • Self-plagiarism
    • Is this paper look similar to your previous one?
    • Copy-and-paste.
  • Quotation and Paraphrase.
  • Plagiarism checking tools.
common pitfalls in writing papers1
Common Pitfalls in Writing Papers

Presentation Aspect:

  • Write paper for you only!
    • Suppose reviewers/readers have known everything you know.
  • Lacking of context
    • Lacking of problem definition or crowded with them.
    • Lacking of literature review or unfairly diminish others work.
  • Purely descriptive
    • No alternative, no comparison, no comments just “we did this, we did that…”
common pitfalls in writing papers2
Common Pitfalls in Writing Papers

Presentation Aspect:

  • Bad structured
    • Unbalance in parts.
    • Include irrelevant or unnecessarily long contents.
    • Incoherence.
  • Obscure writing
    • Many acronyms and abbreviations.
    • Inconsistence in notation usage.
    • Use footnote more than text.
common pitfalls in writing papers3
Common Pitfalls in Writing Papers

Language Aspect:

Academic writing is a discipline!

  • Writing paper with colorful language
    • Straight and simple.
  • Write long and complex sentences
    • KISS – Keep it short and simple
  • Context repetition
    • Should not repeat ourselves.
  • Inconsistent tense in a paragraph
common pitfalls in writing papers4
Common Pitfalls in Writing Papers

Language Aspect:

Academic writing is a discipline!

  • Active vs. Passive voice
    • Vietnamese tends to use more active voice while formal English tends to use passive.
  • Bad word choice
    • Over-sell/over-generalize words (e.g “paradigm”)
    • Buzz words (cool but shallow).
    • Controversy words.
  • Typos and bad graphics
response to reviewers
Response to Reviewers

But if you have a chance to response to the reviewers of your paper …

response to reviewers1
Response to Reviewers

Don’t:

  • Use aggressive or defensive tone.
  • Use one reviewer’s response against another.
  • I am right because the reviewer is wrong!
  • Say things like “we agree” or “this is excellent ..” if you are going to change the paper as suggested by reviewers.
  • Referring back for similar comments
    • “See my response to comment X above..”
  • Submit same version to other journals.
response to reviewers2
Response to Reviewers

Do:

  • Give thanks to the reviewers and editor.
  • Understand and address all points raised by the editor and reviewers.
  • Pick your battle and present your disagreement in a polite way!
  • Restate the comments and clearly show your major revisions.
  • Resubmit your paper and response-

to-reviewers on time.

slide18
THANK YOU !

Acknowledgement – apart from my own experience, I have consulted various writings related to the topic on the internet; in particular, www.vietphd.org

Prof. McKay from SNU should be thanked for giving his experience on the common academic language mistakes committed by Asian researchers

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