Master Academic Writing with This 6-Step Framework

Discover our proven six-step framework to elevate your academic writing skills. From topic selection to research and revision, learn how to craft persuasive research papers and boost your academic success.

An image of Lennart tapping his glasses looking into the camera.
This is me looking intensely at someone writing a paper.

Happy First of May. Thank you again for being a part of the CHI Paper Writing Course community. And if you are at CHI 2022 this year, welcome to the conference.

Beginning today, I will send you an email once a month with writing tips and updates from the world of my writing course.

But on to the new monthly newsletter: The tips and tricks will only take a few minutes to read.

A Six-step Framework to Writing

Here is a framework of six steps in any writing process:

  1. Choose a topic or a research question. Before you begin writing, you will need to select a topic or some ideas of what to write about. For a research paper, the initial moment is often your research question, which is tied to addressing a problem that matters to you and hopefully other academics.
  2. Gather ideas. When you have a topic or find a research question, think about what you will write about that topic. When writing a research paper, we often deeply dive into related work to find out two things: (1) how have people solved similar problems or questions and (2) why do they think it matters to your research field? Spend some time exploring your field and refining your research question before you begin organizing your thoughts.
  3. Organize. Decide specifically which of the ideas for solving the research problem you want to use and how you want to use them. Luckily most research papers follow a pretty tight template of introduction, related work, methods, results, discussion, limitations, and future work with some variation. So, you already know into which bins to fit your writing. Do you have an idea for framing? Consider putting a bullet point in the introduction or discussion.
  4. Write. Write your paper from start to finish. Write it rough, make mistakes, and don't edit it. Ideally, use bullet points in each section to expand. Use your notes from step 2.
  5. Review structure and content. Now, inspect what you have written. Read your writing aloud to yourself or others. This is the best way to find awkward spots. Identify spots where you can add more information, and check if you have any unnecessary information. Discuss with peers. Ideally, find a writing community where they read your article, and you read their article. Getting your peers' feedback is an excellent way to know if your writing is clear and compelling. Learning to give feedback about other people's writing helps you improve your own. You may want to go on to step six now and revise the structure and content of your article before you proofread it.
  6. Revise structure and content. Use the feedback from step five to rewrite your article, improving the structure and content. You might need to explain something more clearly or add more details. Proofread. Reread your article. Check your spelling and grammar when rereading the article, and think about your word choices. Are they adequate to communicate what you want to share? Once all errors are corrected, your article is finished.

That's it. This framework applies to most writing, and I first found it in a book from Zemach and Rumisek about academic writing and have adjusted it since for my article writing process. It is a great way to get started.

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Have an excellent CHI conference. Until next month.