Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Drafting an Academic Paper

Well done everyone today, Kate really enjoyed hearing all your dissertation ideas. To help you focus on how to begin writing your dissertation I'll put my money where my academic mouth is and share with you how I develop a researched academic paper.

I have a paper to write for a January deadline as part of my PhD. I gave a presentation of the idea last Tuesday at a conference held in Edinburgh and from that I now need to write a draft. The whole paper is 3000 words and I need to write a 1500 word draft for Fri.

Have a look at the draft and either be inspired/ignore how I've done it. I am using working titles and I have pasted in relevant quotes from the research I've done so far. These quotes are helping me to structure each section. When I come to write the draft I will select a shorter quote from each paragraph to illustrate what I am writing about, or I will summarize the quoted text and synthesise the information with other text.

I will post the drafts as I do them so that you can see how I develop the thesis up to the final submission.

Feel free to post comments/questions and I will try and answer them.


Ste Chabeaux said...

Hi Dave ive just looked at your draft. It is very similar to how we went about doing my Research Techniques isnt it? Ive saved it off for reference if thats ok. Its a good way on showing how to go about our own draft isnt? So thanks for the info Dave :)

Dave Wood said...

Glad it may be useful. I try to lead from the front ;-)

Alec said...

Hi Dave. I like the draft paper - just a word of caution so that you're prepared in advance. Is your range of sources wide enough? All except one date from 2004, and the other one is from 2003. I'd be amazed if views don't change over time. Should you take this into account? At least be ready to justify why 2004 isn't too narrow a perspective.

Also, quite a few of the quotes are from McDonald. Are there other authors who support him? Or indeed disagree with him? In the days of Web 2.0, everyone has a published opinion.

Dave Wood said...

Hi Alec,

Good to see you're still following the work. I take your point as it is a concern I will be addressing in the paper. My central theme is the lack of visual communication literature on interactivity. So far Macdonald, Poynor, O'Reilly, and a few others are all that I have academically found. Literature from HCI, human factors, computer science and industrial design is for the purposes of this paper acknowledged but not explored.

Unfortunately the blogasphere is a non-peer reviewed environment and for this paper it is important to draw strictly upon the academic literature first.

The draft I'll post towards the weekend will be half-developed as I have a Christmas full of further reading to explore. Even then it will probably not be as comprehensive as I'd hope. It is slightly annoying that Rick Poynor and Steve Heller are only 2 critical writers on graphic design who are consistently cited. There is quality in their contributions, especially as editors of collected essays, but I would have liked more range. Not to say that there isn't quality in other non-prolific design authors, it's just frustrating that the majority of books published are basically more design 'porn' than theory and criticism. Hey that's the problem with new disciplines! ;-)

The January deadline really is too soon for me research wise, as I have to work to the full-time deadline (Yes 3rd years I have half the time to write the same amount as the full-time students). Notwithstanding that the 1st draft I posted was a quick post as an illustration to the 3rd years' on how to structure, and I have wider references to add.

It would be good to hear you're thoughts, comments and critiques as I draft. So please feel free to email me. :-)

Once written I aim to expand this paper towards being part of my first PhD chapter. Hopefully by then more contemporary sources will have come to light. If you encounter any visual communication writers you think I haven't explored please feel to pass them on.