Tips for Lengthening an Academic or Scientific Manuscripts
Advanced research tends to produce an excess of information, so it is often the case that communicating that research in few enough written words to meet publisher length requirements is the challenge. Equally challenging, however, and in some ways more frustrating is the situation in which an author cannot find enough words to report his or her research accurately and effectively. This is not uncommon among early-career researchers who are just beginning to publish their work and it is all the more common among those who are writing in a language that is not their own. The following tips might therefore prove useful.
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• Read what you have already written. This will often trigger thoughts of the things you intended to write but did not. If you read your document in hard copy or use a software function such as Microsoft Word’s comments, you can make marginal notes about whatever you may have forgotten and then put them to good use when it comes time to revise and lengthen the manuscript.
• Read articles of a length and structure similar to those you are aiming to achieve and that also explore topics in your subject area. Some papers will stand out as particularly well written or present research in a manner that you find particularly engaging and informative. How do they present material? What have they included that you have not? Use the best articles as models for presenting your own research.
• Seek assistance from mentors and colleagues who have successfully published their academic or scientific writing. Ask them where they think your paper is falling short. When did they want or need to know more? How would they expand the discussion or lengthen the article? Give any feedback they offer serious consideration.
• Think about your research as a story that you are relating to your anticipated readers. Have you set the stage adequately? Have you related the whole story with clarity? Have you discussed what you believe it means? A little extra detail or explanation in key places can improve, lengthen and even add suspense to a research document much as it can to a piece of fiction.
• Take another look at the findings of your research, both the raw data and any notes you made about evidence and results. Yes, you have already done this many times, but you are short on words, so looking again may provide ways in which you can expand both your thinking and the length of your text. Are there interesting anomalies, surprises or countertrends that you have not yet mentioned? Is there a general impression that could be added to your discussion?
• Consider the most innovative or groundbreaking aspects of your research. Have you written enough about them to enable readers to understand what is new about your approach, findings or perspective? Have you cited and discussed your scholarly predecessors in relation to your innovations? Rereading some key literature might give you more thoughts about your own work that you can then share with your readers.
• Reflect on your concluding thoughts. Do they highlight key issues? Do they mention limitations and clarify implications? Do they make sound and valuable recommendations? Wrestling through your ideas about your research and its meanings can often lead your thoughts in new and productive directions.
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