About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tips on Revision: Trouble shooting sections: Introduction and Background/Lit review

Introduction: What goes into the introduction may vary stylistically depending on length, discipline, and purpose. However, a good introduction will allow the reader to decide if they want to continue reading. When you have been asked to revise the introduction, the first thing you need to determine is was this the result of your writing not being focused or clear enough or is this the reviewer wanting you to change direction or refocus your paper? If it is your writing, you need to go back and reread your paper, especially findings/conclusions to make sure your introduction aligns with the rest of the paper.

It might help to do your introduction revisions last. This way you can frame your paper so the reader knows what to expect. This is contrary to your first draft where you frame your paper so you can write. Revisions usually move towards the reader's ability to understand what you write. So leaving introduction revisions to the end means you have a better idea of where you want your reader to end up.

Background/literature review

Often times, we have made claims or framed our paper based on previous theories, but then find that our research does not fit with those theories. This is the section where those that must cull words can do the most culling. This is also the section where you need to craft how your research is relevant.

1) If you are using hypotheses, make sure your develop how previous research supported the development of your hypotheses. This is where you explain you logic in developing the hypothesis, supporting it with research. You don't need to include all the research you have ever read (especially if there is a word limit or the piece is shorter; this is not necessarily true for a dissertation or thesis where breadth of literature is important) but only those pieces that had the most impact on your hypothesis development.

2) If you are using research questions (usually qualitative) to organize literature, use only the research that was relevant in creating the questions or will support the questions you asked.

3) If you have findings that you did not initially anticipate, you need to go back and revise your background information to explain your findings. During my dissertation, my focus was moved from collaborative writing to knowledge creation. As a result, I had to go back and see what the literature was on knowledge creation. I realized that in reframing my question (the question was the same, the answers were different than anticipated and a different discipline explained the answers better), there were no theoretical frameworks for the type of research I was working on. I ended up creating a framework based on the literature I collected AFTER my analysis. This is not an indication that you had a problem with your initial research but rather that you kept an open mind and did not change the data to match your assumptions. This is an attribute of good research.

4) Target any new literature searches to only those areas feedback has indicated as weak. Academic writers have the tendency to want to find new literature which might take them into new areas or give them new understanding of the topics. That is fine for the first draft. But the 2nd and 3rd drafts only need research that supports or frames their hypothesis/message/research questions. One thing I've found helpful is to save new ideas/literature for future articles by writing up memos I can revisit. This way, I don't feel as if I'm missing anything.

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