By writing and publishing articles, you can…
• Share information with colleagues
• Encourage action from others
• Promote your professional development
• Gain insights while researching the topic
• Enjoy the good feeling of being a published author!
Five keys to successful writing
• Identify your article’s audience, purpose, and focus
• Identify which publications you will target
• Research your topic
• Organize your thoughts
• Write first, then review
1. Identify your audience, purpose, and focus
• Audience: Who will read your article, specifically? For example, in an audience of financial aid administrators, you may have brand new counselors; seasoned directors; and representatives from all types of schools such as vocational schools, private schools, public schools, medical schools, urban schools, rural schools, etc. How will their needs differ?
• Purpose: Why are you writing the article? To inform? Persuade? Educate? Entertain? A combination of these? What do you intend to share with the readers?
• Focus: What aspects of your topic do you plan to cover?
• Keep the focus narrow enough to give sufficient detail for your purpose
• Keep the focus broad enough to be useful
2. Select which publication(s) you will target
• Audiences may differ according to publication. Direct your article to the publication’s audience and general subject matter
• Avoid boilerplate articles—tailor your material for each publication
• Become familiar with publication’s style and tone
3. Research the topic
• Learn more about the topic even if you feel you “know all about it.”
• Find supporting data
• Identify opposing viewpoints
• Consider possible quotes or statistics to enhance article
• Double- and triple-check for absolute accuracy
4. Organize your thoughts
• Using your audience, purpose, focus, targeted publications, and research as a basis, organize your thoughts and ideas for logic/clarity so that the audience can follow your lead. Use whatever system works for you.
For example, you might…
• Construct a formal or informal outline
• Create a mind map on paper, post-its, note cards, computer files, etc.
5. Write first, then review
• Editing while writing can create stilted articles; try writing, then editing
• G.K. Chesterton said, “The best is the enemy of the good.” Polish and perfect your article, but eventually, stop polishing and submit it! If you wait until it reaches the Pulitzer Prize caliber, it may never see print
• Have others read it. If you find you have to explain verbally certain aspects of the article, revise those sections
• Reword areas that readers can misconstrue. Accurate information that is misinterpreted is as dangerous as inaccurate information
The Structure of the Paper
In general, academic articles tend contain three parts; an introduction, the main body of analysis, and a conclusion. Most journals also require an abstract (usually about 200 words) outlining the main argument/finding of the paper. (By the way, writing an abstract is a very useful as it helps focus the mind on what is really important. You should write one before you start writing the paper – and then write another version once the paper is complete).
The three main parts of the paper can vary dramatically in length, depending on the nature of the article. For example, the introduction may vary from one paragraph outlining the structure and aim of the article, to several sections covering theoretical underpinnings, a comparative literature review, methodological discussion etc. Similarly, the conclusion can range from a few paragraphs summarizing key points/findings, to a discussion of policy implications, directions for future research etc.
The purpose of the introduction is to create space for the author to show how his or her work fits into the relevant body of academic literature. In the case of a theoretical article, for example, the author may start off by reviewing the existing or dominant rival theories in the area concerned. This would typically be followed by an argument pointing to the inadequacy of the existing theories, and a statement as to how they could be improved (or replaced). In this way, the author sets the stage for the contribution that follows.
In the case of an article in applied economics, the introduction could take the form of a review of the statistical technique to be followed, or of the results of similar statistical applications in other countries, or both. An article based on a case study is likely to have an introductory section explaining why the case is of interest (perhaps because it is an interesting exception to a conventional wisdom, or because it sheds light on a particular theoretical dispute or theory).
Introductions, in other words, can take many forms, but they all serve the same purpose: to create space for the author to speak to the discipline. Where a substantial introduction is required, it also serves the purpose of establishing the academic credentials of the author. It provides an important forum for the author to refer to existing work (thus illustrating that the author is at least familiar with, if not an expert in, the field). It is a way of saying ‘take me seriously’ and is an important part of the academic game. Where a short introduction is appropriate, then more onuses are placed on the main body of the argument to establish such credentials. This is the case with regard to review articles and pioneering work in fields where few, if any, academic books and articles exists. Argumentative pieces propounding certain views or critiquing existing theory or policy positions also tend to have short introductions.
The Main Body of the Argument/Analysis
The main body of the argument or analysis is obviously the core of the article, but can also vary significantly in length. For example, an article reporting the results of an econometric analysis may end up devoting only a few thousand words to the actual analysis. The bulk of the article may instead be distributed between reviewing and critiquing existing studies (in the introduction) and drawing policy implications (in the conclusion). Alternatively, if the point of the econometric paper is to show how the relationship between two variables alters dramatically depending on the specification of the equations, then it is clearly more appropriate to devote far more space to the analysis itself.
Articles concerned primarily with reporting the results of original empirical research tend to have substantial main bodies of text. This usually consists of tables, regression results, and qualitative description. In the case of a review article, the main body of the argument takes up almost the entire paper. The longer the main body, the more necessary it becomes to structure the argument, possibly by dividing it up into sub-sections.
The purpose of a conclusion is to round off the argument, take stock of the findings and draw out final implications. Without a conclusion, an article just stops, and hence appears unfinished. The conclusion acts to provide a ‘full stop’ to the story and to satisfy the reader that the job of reading the paper was worthwhile. Conclusions typically include a brief summary of the main findings/argument, although this is not necessary. Where appropriate, they also include policy recommendations (thus pointing to the potential practical relevance of the work) or directions for future research (in the case of new fields).
Useful readings on writing:
• McCloskey, D. 1985. “Economical Writing”, in Economic Inquiry, vol.23, April. ALL STUDENTS MUST READ THIS EXCELLENT PAPER! For a longer version of the article, see McCloskey, D. 1987. The Writing of Economics, Macmillan, New York. Both are available in the Resource File in Paula’s office.
• “Love is a Fallacy” by Max Shulman. This is an amusing and perceptive introduction to logical thinking. It is available in the Resource File in Paula’s Office
You're a successful agent. You have limited advertising/recruiting funds. You want to enhance your image in the marketplace. One of the best strategies is to write articles that get published, and use those articles in all of your marketing strategies. Here are the steps to follow to write articles that are valuable and that get published every time.
The Process: Simple and Straightforward
Writing an article follows the same process composers’ use in writing a popular tune: It starts with the theme (A), continues with the middle, where you expand on the idea and example (B), and ends again with the theme. When I'm teaching my "Train the Trainer" course, we practice this simple structure when we create training programs.
Here are the simple steps I've used over the years to create articles that have gotten published hundreds of times in major real estate magazines and newsletters:
1. Decide on who your audience is, so you realize for whom you're writing
2. Decide on the challenge (s) they have that you want to address
3. Jot down all the ideas you have about the challenges and solutions
4. Narrow the topic so you can zero in specifically on what you want to write about. The biggest mistake writers and teachers make is to choose too broad a topic for the time or word framework. For example, it's difficult to write 500 words on how to create a team. You CAN write 500 words about why to create a team; or three strategic tips in creating a team.
5. Choose one to three ideas to discuss.
6. Arrange the topics in the order you want to discuss them
7. To expand on the ideas, present the idea clearly and then give an example. One commonality I've found among editors is that they want examples with the idea. Otherwise, the reader doesn't really get the picture.
8.Close the article with the reiteration of your challenge and solution, and give your audience positive motivation to take action.
From writing all those articles, here are the lessons I've learned:
1. A smaller topic is better
2. Less ideas are better
3. More examples are better
So, in about 400-500 words, you'll only have time for one to three ideas and examples. Make the examples 'real life'. Also, be sure your article is as perfect as you can get it before submitting. These editors don't have time to work with any of us in extensive editing. The person who submits articles "ready to go" gets published much more often!
Pick up your favorite real estate magazine or newsletter. See the kind of articles that the publisher likes. Note the length. Ask yourself: Why would my articles be a benefit to that publication? Then, contact the publisher for article specifications and submission policies. You're on your way to standing out as an exceptional agent!
Theoretical researchers try to describe, interpret and explain events with out making any judgments about them.
Evaluative researcher describes, interpret and explain events so that they and others can make evaluative judgments about them.
The action Researchers are intent on describing, interpreting and explaining events while they seek to change them for the better. Mcniff et al (McNiff et al., 1996) extend these points to include, systematic enquiry made public, informed, committed, intentional action, worthwhile purpose. Winter (Winter, 1998) tells us that the practice of Action Research as a methodology involves risk, by that risk Winter implies that a degree of vulnerability and openness is required
• The headline should be accurate and in the present tense.
• The first sentence needs to be short and dramatic. Surprise your reader! Make them curious.
• Be clear from the start – put the facts of the story first.
• Remember to use the 5 W’s – who is involved; what happened; when did it happen; where and, most important, why?
• Be accurate - get your facts correct.
• Use active verbs wherever possible.
• Keep the article brief – don’t bore your reader and don’t make it too complicated to understand. Be incisive.
• Be fair – there are at least two sides to every story. Let the readers make up their own minds.
• Avoid clichés – find new ways to describe familiar people and events.
• Search for a special ingredient – make your story stand out from the Others
Creating a Newspaper Article
1. Outline the purpose of your article
2. Choose an article topic
3. Research the article
4. Write the article
5. Edit the article - have a friend proofread it
6. Rewrite the article and type it on the computer
7. Do spells check
Formula for a Well-Written News Article
1. First paragraph
In your first one or two sentences tell who, what, when, where, and why. Try to hook the reader by beginning with a funny, clever, or surprising statement. Go for variety: try beginning your article with a question or a provocative statement.
2. Second/Third/Fourth paragraphs
Give the reader the details. Include one or two quotes from people you interviewed. Write in the third person (he, she, it, they). Be objective -- never state your opinion. Use quotes to express others' opinions!
3. Last paragraph
Wrap it up somehow (don’t leave the reader hanging. Please don't say...."In conclusion" or "To finish..." (yawn!) Try ending with a quote or a catchy phrase.
• Use active words (verbs that show what's really happening.)
• Take notes when you interview. Write down quotes!
• Tell the really interesting info first!
Since animal life spans are generally shorter than humans’ it is inevitable that we must deal with the pain and grief of this loss and many of us experience it many times. Throughout my life I have seen and felt a shift in how we humans regard the animals we live so closely with. We are learning from them about our connections with all life and how those connections feel.
Too often we humans get stuck in our heads as we attempt to apply rational thought or logic to the events affecting us. Animals bring us right to the feelings level by simply being whom and what they are. This is most evident during the emotional trauma of an animal companion’s death.
The animals have always known that their role in God’s universe is as partners with humans for the growth and evolution of all. They serve with plants and minerals as food sources, yes, but they also teach and guide us in the basics of the natural way of life. Anyone who has lived with an animal for an extended period knows how that personality has affected their life. I find that the knowledge that the spirit, human or animal, continues on after physical death is gaining greater acceptance.
Animals have always been much more accepting of death than humans, because they know that it is only a passage from one form of being to another. It changes the context of the journey of the soul, but not the journey itself. This alone has been a source of great comfort to their human companions. In fact, many of my consultations consist of contacting the animal spirit after it has died in physical form. The loving bond connecting these souls transcends time, place or the physical form.
Animal consciousness from the point of view of the animals has always been constant in purpose and direction. Human awareness and acceptance of that consciousness, however, has changed dramatically throughout the history of “civilization”. The ancient kinship between humans and animals was first discounted and then distorted as man became more concerned with the physical/material aspects of life. With the help of our animal companions, this perspective is changing as we approach the millennium to a more spiritual/emotional aspect. So it is not “animal consciousness” that is evolving, but “humanimal” awareness that is becoming more prevalent.
A lifelong rapport with animals led to an animal communication workshop in early 1995. The spiritual impact of this experience combined with further advanced training promoted her career as a professional telepathic animal communicator.
First you must decide what you would like to write about. Is it:
• An explanation of a technique?
• A description of a situation in your facility?
• A procedure that you find helpful?
• An anecdote about something that enlightened you?
• A more effective and efficient method?
• A less stressful handling/restraint technique?
• A unique machine, cage, or facility design?
• A recipe for success?
The list is endless.
You can figure out what to write just by having conversations with colleagues, learning something new, or overcoming a challenging situation. Anything that you have found helpful in your daily routine or that you feel is worthwhile to present to colleagues is acceptable for submission. Even a negative or stressful situation offers a lesson to be learned! It’s all right if you feel your topic may be controversial in nature; be courageous and submit it anyway! To get feedback on your idea, contact your Branch’s Technician Branch Representative (TBR) or Committee on Technician Awareness and Development (CTAD) District Representative. All of these people will be more than happy to help you make article become the best that it can be. We want your article to make it to publication!
Who are your readers going to be? Will they be:
• Veterinary technicians who perform surgical techniques and medical treatments?
• Animal husbandry technicians who change cages and make daily observations of the animals?
• Veterinarians who need detailed information about regulations, experimental procedures, and other complex issues?
• Management personnel who need to provide guidance and instructions to their staff?
• Scientists who perform the protocols?
This question will likely be answered as you decide what your topic will be. But you must make certain that the language of the article conforms to the comprehension level and specific interests of the target reader. Again, you can give your local TBR or District CTAD representatives a call if you need help!
Now that you've figured out what to write about and who your target audience will be, you need to decide how to start your article.
Basically, you should determine exactly what you would like to accomplish by presenting this article to your target audience. Are you making your position known on a controversial issue? Are you explaining steps in a Standard Operating Procedure about the proper use of disinfectants in a mouse room? Are you discussing methods to provide helpful organizational skills for busy individuals? These ideas might help:
• Create an outline: A good way to get your thoughts together is to create an outline first. Get your main points and categories down on paper and arrange them in logical order before you start the bulk of your writing. This will help you collect similar topic items together and it will save you tons of time editing and changing paragraphs later.
• Use a tape recorder: Another way to gather your thoughts is by recording your article on a tape recorder. Have a friend help you read aloud what you have written. Having someone else read it is a good idea because if it does not make sense to them or is difficult to read, then it may appear to other readers the same way. See how it sounds when being played back. Make any changes and re-record as necessary until it makes sense and flows well. Then transfer the finished product to paper or computer disk.
Choose whichever way works better for you. When you are satisfied with your preliminary results, it's time to begin writing the article itself. Take each portion of your outline or draft and begin placing it in paragraph format. Take your time. Try to write as simply and as directly as possible. Once the article is written, read it over with the following questions in mind:
• Does it make sense?
• Does it flow logically?
• Is the appropriate information being included for the target audience?
• Is there anything that is not necessary, off-topic, or redundant that can be removed?
• Are some parts relevant, but would be better suited for another area of content within the article?
You cannot expect to prepare an article—even a relatively short one—in one shot without checking and re-checking it numerous times. As I wrote these "helpful hints," I’ve read them over and over. It has been spell-checked, grammar-checked (by computer and humans) and read by several colleagues to check for soundness of content. It is sometimes helpful to wait a few days (or weeks!) before rereading your article—this helps you to look at what you’ve written with a fresh eye.
Be aware that space limitations and deadlines for submission may force the editorial committee to put your article on a waiting list, so do not become discouraged. Most publishers prefer to have a bank of articles waiting to make it to the publications from talented authors-to-be.
When all is said and done, you will have published your article, gained recognition for the topic you are writing about, and earned Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for your efforts!
Here are some other helpful hints:
• Find a quiet area to write down ideas so you won't be interrupted
• Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy! A medical dictionary may also be useful.
• Keep any relevant reference material close by to avoid delays searching for them.
• If you have access to the Internet, you may find the following resources helpful:
Dictionary: www.dictionary.com. This site searches several dictionaries at once, including Cancer Web’s On-line Medical Dictionary. The home page also has links to Roget’s Thesaurus, resources for grammar and style, a translation tool, and other dictionaries.
Medical dictionary: http://www.stedmans.com/. If the medical term you’re looking up is not in Cancer Web’s On-line Medical Dictionary, try the one on this site.
• Make many changes in wording, sentence structure, or sentence placement in paragraphs until it sounds correct, flows properly and makes the most sense. Keep a tape recorder and blank tapes handy if recording preliminary drafts.
• As you write, imagine that you are the reader and ask questions throughout the progression of the article. Trying to answer those questions should thoroughly complete the article.
• Write as you speak, but avoid using slang or street terms.
• If using a computer, save your work every time you put down a new thought or paragraph to avoid losing the information as the result of power surge/failure or other distraction. When saving, back it up on disk, not just the hard drive! If your hard drive crashes, so does all of your hard work!
• Take breaks if you become frustrated. If using a computer, save it and come back to it at a later time.
• Find helpful individuals who will give constructive criticism tactfully. Be prepared for the consequences! Then continue to improve your article.
• Ask for assistance as much as necessary, from as many people who will listen!
• When you think you just can't do it, that’s when you need to keep doing it!
• Call or e-mail your Branch’s TBR, your AALAS CTAD District rep, or the Communications Dept. at AALAS for more assistance.
So you think you have an idea for a manuscript?
• Is there an audience for your idea?
• Is your idea high-quality?
o Quality test for an education manuscript: do you use the idea and would the idea be a good project 10 years from now (since so much is available electronically, projects can be accessed for longer periods and must be useable for longer periods)?
• Run it by colleagues who will critically review your idea. Would they use it in their classroom?
• Has your idea already been published by someone else? Check all appropriate sources.
• Even if someone previously published your idea, your work still may be publishable:
o Can you extend the idea?
o Can you refute some of the information in print?
o If it is a controversial topic, even supporting the published paper could make your paper publishable.
o Is your project in a different environment or research system than what is in print?
E.g., an educational study that used rural students as their subjects may end up with different results than if they had used urban students.
Where to submit?
• Before collecting data or writing the manuscript, get an idea of appropriate venues for submitting your manuscript.
o Do not initially tailor your idea and format to fit only one journal. Read a range of journals to get a sense of what type of information you will need for publication.
Permission slips from students?
Permits for using city, state, or national lands?