Developing Good Research Questions

Most universities require undergraduate and postgraduate students to submit unique and quality research papers. Even though it takes a lot of time and effort, Brian Thomas from Stanford University believes that undergraduate research enables students like you to mature as thinkers and doers. It also allows you to be equipped with the necessary communication and research skills, which will be helpful once you start working. Indeed, an article on soft skills from LHH explains that communication abilities, whether verbal or written, are one of the workplace skills that can boost your employability once you start looking for jobs. This just shows that communication through effective writing is important as a student and a future employee.

So if you’re a student looking for ways to improve your writing skills, here are four books that can help you:

How to Write a Lot

The first book is How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia. In the book’s second edition, Silvia acknowledges the unique struggles that come with writing academic papers without sound advice. As such, he provides readers with advice to help them overcome barriers to writing and use time more productively. For instance, Silvia recommends scheduling a writing time every day, whether in the morning or afternoon and sticking to that schedule. By regularly carving out this time, you can ensure that you accomplish something each day. The book also suggests practical strategies to motivate students and researchers to become better and more prolific writers based on their own experiences in psychology. By reading this book, you can develop the habit of consistent writing without sacrificing your own personal time.

How to Take Smart Notes

Another excellent book that will change your approach to writing academic papers is How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens. Unlike the previously mentioned publication, Ahrens aims to help students and academics simplify their writing processes by teaching them a note-taking technique called Zettelkasten, which means filing boxes for index cards in German. With this method, you use a personal index card system for research notes. When you read about or come up with an interesting idea related to your paper, you write it on a single note card so you can remember your ideas when you have to write down your paper. After all, the key to efficient writing lies in the intelligent organisation of your ideas and notes.

Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks

If you want tips on how to systematise your writing process, podcast regular and productivity expert Dr. Wendy Laura Belcher has you covered in the book Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. Speaking on the Research in Action podcast, Dr. Belcher outlined how her book is a step-by-step workbook that guides you through writing a research paper from scratch. The book does this by breaking down tasks and arranging them into small and manageable steps, making the writing process less daunting. It also provides necessary instructions, exercises, and structures that guide you as you write your thesis or dissertation. Since the workbook is based on the feedback of students and professors, you can guarantee that they are practical and feasible for almost any type of academic paper.

Becoming an Academic Writer

Lastly, Becoming an Academic Writer by Patricia Goodson is another exercise book that can help your academic writing skills. The book’s central message is that writers can improve their writing abilities by engaging in deep and deliberate practice. This is a common approach adopted by expert performers in areas such as sports or music. Because of this, Goodson’s book includes 50 practical writing exercises with topics ranging from scheduling writing sessions, organising messy drafts, and expanding your academic vocabulary. Since it’s a self-paced guide, you don’t need to feel pressured to perfect each exercise simultaneously. You can also focus more on specific areas where you think you need more time to master.

If you’re still worried about your academic writing skills, you can find comfort in knowing that you can apply storytelling concepts to academic writing. In fact, our article on ‘The Art of Storytelling in Academic Writing’ shares that academic writing is parallel to storytelling. Consider that both have a setting, conflict, and theme, except that academic papers usually practise specific investigative methods.

Regardless of what approach you use to create your academic paper, what’s important is learning the skills to do so. With the ability to produce credible writing, you can accomplish and share more in your academic life.




Article written by JB Edwards for