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Honing Your Academic Writing Skills

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Part of the Springer Texts in Education book series (SPTE)


This chapter on academic writing serves as a reference for a number of topics discussed throughout the textbook. Instructors can decide to teach this topic before talking about the literature review. This chapter is subdivided into the following topics: structuring writing, finding your voice, tips for non-native English speakers, and tips for productive academic writing. The first topic, on structuring writing, deals with the main questions you need to ask yourself before starting. The next topic, on finding your voice in writing, deals with writing styles, scholarly identity, and how different writing styles relate to different types of articles. Since the majority of scientific publications nowadays are in English, and many PhD candidates are non-native English speakers, we focus on the typical pitfalls for non-native speakers. We also discuss how, as a non-native speaker, you can work on improving your English, and how you can find your writing voice and scholarly identity in a language that is not your own. Finally, this chapter contains a series of tips for productive academic writing. Best practices are shared, and anecdotes from researchers worldwide illustrate how they manage to fit academic writing into their busy schedules.


  • Academic writing
  • Productive writing
  • Authority
  • Academic voice
  • Productivity
  • Writing

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Fig. 7.1


  1. 1.

    I invite you to try this method out, but it may not work for you, just like writing in MS Word does not work for everybody and many academics sing the praises of Scrivener.

  2. 2.

    I don’t think we should be publishing for the sole reason of getting citations and improving our metrics.

  3. 3.

    Even with a baby in the mix.

  4. 4.

    Which of course won’t happen, because you’ve learned in this book to plan so that you can always finish your drafts on time.

  5. 5.

    This section is a toolbox – use these tools on an as-needed basis.

  6. 6.

    One of my workplaces does not have a second screen. There, I often print out the article I am developing into a literature review section or of which I am analyzing the data.

  7. 7.

    And don’t we all love stats in the shape of pretty visuals?

Further Reading and References

  1. Lantsoght, E. (2014). Writers’ Lab: Five steps to completing your first draft – The Academic Writing Edition. PhD Talk.

  2. Rose, M. (1984). Writer’s block: The cognitive dimension. Studies in writing & rhetoric. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: Why writing is your single most important skill. PhD Talk.

  4. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: Writing more compelling articles and blog posts. PhD Talk.

  5. Lantsoght, E. (2012). Towards better concentration in five steps. PhD Talk.

  6. Lantsoght, E. O. L., van der Veen, C., & Walraven, J. C. (2013). Shear in one-way slabs under a concentrated load close to the support. ACI Structural Journal, 110(2), 275–284.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Konnikova, M. (2013). Why grad schools should require students to blog.

  8. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: Improving narrative in multidisciplinary projects through blogging. PhD Talk.

  9. Lantsoght, E. (2012). The creative process: Reading sparks creativity. PhD Talk.

  10. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: A writing diet. PhD Talk.

  11. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: How you should start writing from Day 1. PhD Talk.

  12. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writer’s Lab: Varying sentence length for better writing. PhD Talk.

  13. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writer’s Lab: Seven lessons from academic writing. PhD Talk.

  14. Lantsoght, E. (2010). Reverb10 – Day 2: Writing. PhD Talk.

  15. Curry, M. J., & Lillis, T. (2013). A Scholar’s guide to getting published in English: Critical choices and practical strategies. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  16. Glasman-Deal, H. (2010). Science research writing for non-native speakers of English. London: Imperial College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: List of common mistakes. PhD Talk.

  18. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: Writing Academic English for non-native speakers. PhD Talk.

  19. Center for Applied Linguistics. (2016). Academic English skills.

  20. Clark, B. (2012). 15 Grammar Goofs that make you look silly [infographic].

  21. Fogarty, M. (2016). Grammar Girl: “Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language.”

  22. Aitchison, C., Carter, S., & Guerin, C. (2016). Doctoral Writing SIG.

  23. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: A quick hack to writing with less disturbances. PhD Talk.

  24. Lantsoght, E. (2011). Using shortcuts to write faster. PhD Talk.

  25. Lantsoght, E. (2013). PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: Cultivating the art of writing. PhD Talk.

  26. Lantsoght, E. (2014). Writers’ Lab: 10 Tips for more productive academic writing. PhD Talk.

  27. Goodson, P. (2012). Becoming an academic writer: 50 exercises for paced, productive, and powerful writing (1st ed.). London: Sage.

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  28. Jensen, S. (2012). II. Challenge common assumptions against daily writing.

  29. Cirillo, F. (2013). The Pomodoro technique. FC Garage GmbH.

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  30. Tufte, E. (2006). Beautiful Evidence. Cheshire: Graphics Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Tufte, E. (2001). The visual display of quantitative information. Cheshire: Graphics Press.

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  32. Tufte, E. (1997). Visual explanations: Images and quantities, Evidence and narrative. Cheshire: Graphics Press.

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  33. Tufte, E. (1990). Envision information. Cheshire: Graphics Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Lantsoght, E. (2017). What gets measured gets done. PhD Talk.

  35. Silvia, P. J. (2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive academic writing (1st ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  36. PhD2Published. (2016). The PhDometer 3.0.

  37. Lantsoght, E. (2011). Seven simple steps to tackle writer’s block. PhD Talk.

  38. Lantsoght, E. (2013). Writers’ Lab: Five ways of getting in the zone. PhD Talk.

  39. Lantsoght, E. (2012). Finding time for writing. PhD Talk.

  40. Davis, A. (2014). Happy PhD: Optimizing your workday for writing. PhD Talk.

  41. Alexander, W. (2014). Writers’ Lab: Writing practices of a postdoc in the sciences. PhD Talk.

  42. Haase, K. (2014). Writers’ Lab: PhD writing with a Baby. PhD Talk.

  43. Deyamport, W. (2014). Writers’ Lab: Experiences from the writing process. PhD Talk.

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Lantsoght, E.O.L. (2018). Honing Your Academic Writing Skills. In: The A-Z of the PhD Trajectory. Springer Texts in Education. Springer, Cham.

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