Leaving a Breadcrumb Trail in Academic Writing

bird-652575_1280No, not the breadcrumbs all over the keyboard because you tried to write through lunch. And dinner. I wanted to comment on the great advice in Thirteen Reasons Researchers Get Asked to Write their Methods Chapter Again. All the points are valuable, but #13 is particularly important when dealing with methods and methodology, as well as the whole process of assembling research into an article or paper. I have worked on developing good habits with my lists of sources when I am writing and use a variety of tools to document and organize them. Keeping track of what I’ve done procedurally is separate challenge.

Being able to backtrack and replicate what you’ve done so far on a paper or article is crucial to editing and rewriting. Another facet of academic writing that I am getting used to is the lag between when you write something and when someone asks you a question about it. It is also easier to go in and make changes if you know what you did three months ago. I use Evernote quite a bit, and it is helpful for organizing and taking notes, but I am finding that just jotting notes is insufficient. I have begun documenting the research and writing process in narrative form as I go along and keeping sources listed in a spreadsheet, so that I can make notes on each source in a format that is easy to pull up, add to, and find what I am looking for. That way, I don’t start shouting, “quagmire!, quagmire!” when I get 3/4 through the process.