Finishing That Dreaded Manuscript! (Part II)

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As discussed in Part I of this series of academic writing tips, the writing-up process can be frustrating and monotonous.  Here are three more tips to help you finalize that manuscript that’s been on the back burner for too long!

1. Stop Collecting Data

To actually reach the writing-up stage, clearly there comes a time when data collection has to stop!  If you are looking to complete your thesis/paper in the near future, you may want to consider whether you already have an acceptable amount of data.  If you feel that your data collection plan might be over ambitious, and sabotaging your timetable, consider whether a reduced sample size is feasible.  Reviewing similar studies, with reference to sample size, and consulting your mentors will help in this process.  This brings us nicely to the next tip…

2. Use Your Mentors

Academics are busy people, and it’s prudent to have plenty of mentors at all stages of the writing process.  Mentors can be particularly useful in terms of giving you the confidence to finalize your manuscript.  In addition to your thesis committee (if you’re a student) and formal mentors (if you’re a professor), I suggest that you seek out mentoring from other relevant faculty members. Thus when “mentors A and B” are particularly busy, you may find that “mentors C and D” have time to review your work and answer questions.   Mentors don’t need to be senior faculty; if you’re a student, a recent PhD graduate could serve as a mentor.   Please also note that it’s not too late to seek out additional mentors at the writing-up stage!

3. Take Enough Time Off

It may sound counter-intuitive, however, in order to finish your manuscript more quickly, it actually helps if you take some time out to enjoy life/relax/rest.  Perhaps it makes more sense if you consider that a healthy balance of work and play enables your mind to be fresher/sharper when you are working, and therefore you actually get more done.  As such, I suggest that you schedule time for both work and recreation in your weekly timetable.