How not to write an academic paper
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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?

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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 ….


Notification to your submitted paper

Notification to your submitted paper:

  • Why?

  • Why?

  • Why? …


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.


How not to write an academic paper

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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