Acedemic writing workshop | Week 2

Acedemic writing workshop lectured by Steven Wallace.

Also see the blog in his techinical writing editor company:

Stay motivated in writing

Unpublished work helps nobody

Writers write, even they hate writing

They force themselves into the habit of writing everday by taking the brave action first.

They write little and often (15 minutes everyday) and make timed burst.

  • At the same time
  • At the same quiet place
  • Take a notebookwith you in case you stumble upon a great idea
  • At first draft for ideas. Then revise for grammar another day.

Writers block

  • Weak motivation: why should I write
  • Poor planning
  • Perfectionism: the enemy of good
  • Treatments

Do not use reading as the excuse to not write

  • Reading list should be trimmed to a minimum (~20 papers). Cite latest ones first.
  • Skim the ideas and take notes sparingly. Keep simple notations about what you read.
  • Do not wait to write, read to write
  • Constant scheduling helps

Debunk the reasons not to write

  • Need a big chunk of time / too busy / cannot sit still / taking care of my kids : so write little and often.
  • “I will write as soon as ….": imperfections are totally OK.
  • Writing is everything in my life: No, you will avoid it with that thinking.
  • I cannot get started / I am not in the mood: reward yourself afterwards
  • Afraid of publishing mistakes: Even better, you get materials for the next paper.
  • My advisor rejects my ideas: grow the idea a little bit more
  • I write so slowly: everyone thinks so. It’s OK.
  • I will write for 8 hours straight tomorrow: Do not burn yourself out.

How to target journals

Textbook (p.184)

Nowadays desk rejects (i.e., without reviews) are more frquent by the reviewer. The editor is the key person.

Which journal to publish

Remember you cannot double submission.

  • Keyword and JCR related metrics for cadidate journals.
  • The journal where the author of your cited reference mostly published
  • Scopus: serach engine for origins of the authors. Does the journal accept Taiwanese / young scholars?
  • Editors letters state the hot topics going on in the journal.
  • It’s even better to cite the articles in the journal (esp. the editor’s) for your paper to be more relevant and connected to key persons.
  • Pick a journal with a rising impact factor (IF) and a good acceptance rate. Avoid the ones that could die before you do.
  • Pick new SCI journals as they are hungry for papers.
  • Two helpful metrics: total citation (TC) and cited half-life (CHL).
  • High IF hard vs. low IF easy journals
  • Finally, find several (~5) journals that might accept your papers.

Those do not help you

  • Book chapters: no impact factor
  • Non-peer reviewed / Non-SCI / Graduate student journals
  • Letters, communication: not a full research paper
  • Local / Very new journals: may not last over 2 years
  • Electronic only (?): some people would think no hard copy, no credibility
  • University journals: inbreeding bias

Those would help you

SCI journals

  • Regional: low competition
  • Rising journal: hungry for papers
  • Interdisciplinary: fast growing and high cite numbers
  • Field (specialist, lower competition)
  • Note: Disciplinary (top) journals have high rejection rates (>95%). They are for seniors.


  • Number of publications per year
  • Backlog time (reception to acceptance to publish)
  • Avoid temporary editors
  • Who would read the journal (libraries' subscriptions)
  • Ask (assistant) editor

Matching your article to the journal

  • Upcoming theme and special issues. Hot topics are hungry for papers.
    • First article and last article of the year.
  • Word / page length limits
  • Article formats, keywords and other regulation: a big reason for rejection
    • Even better if there is an template paper
    • Limits on number of pages / tables / figures. Put them in the appendix if you have too many of them.
  • Coonection with journal editors (e.g conference)
  • Keep a record of your publications: follow the status for reach of your papers

Query letter to the editor

Also called presubmission paper. You are encouraged to do so. Save each other’s time and effort.

Textbook p.270 and p.271

Send hello letter to the assistant editor for indirect backlog (time from reception to publish) / rejection rate. (received vs. published)

Letter to the editor

  • Artitle title
  • My topic (even better if it’s the current hottopic of the journal)
  • Connection e.g. conference, meetings
  • No double submission decleration
  • Abstract for your idea. Never send the full paper to violate the rule above.
  • Conflict of interest (funding)
  • Ask for feedback e.g. interested subtopics

Response from the editor

  • Mini review : the best. The editor cares about you.
  • Send it: OK-ish
  • No: Find others interested
  • No response: Not a good journal if they keep your paper in the desk for too long (> 2 months)

Cover letter

Textbook p.345