Category Archives: Writing

Your public persona: Name matters

This applies to you current and future authors. (Don’t think you won’t be one someday!)

Try to find an author name you can stick with. You want people to easily find all your work. What to consider? What does the future hold? Here’s some help from new online article in Nurse Author & Editor:

Is “data” singular or plural?

I’m a stickler for the plural.  (Peer reviewers are, too.) What’s your take?

Grammar Party

Man with laptop. Word bubble says: Hey, girl. Let's check out some data together

Buckle up, folks. People have strong feelings about whether to treat “data” as a singular or plural noun. And we are going to talk all about it today.

Technically, “datum” is the singular version, and “data” is the plural version.

This means—technically—“data” takes a plural version of a verb.

Examples:

The data are correct.
The data show these numbers.
The data illustrate the findings.

But . . . these days, most people treat “data” as if it were singular. So they use a singular verb with it.

Examples:

The data is correct.
The data shows these numbers.
The data illustrates the findings.

This is where you have to make a decision. Are you going to be a stickler and fight for “data” as a plural, or are you going to buckle under peer pressure and treat it as singular?

You are entitled to your own thoughts about this. But guess…

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Easy to read. Hard to write.

Musings:  For me the most difficult to write sections of a research report are the Intro/Background and Discussion.  And yet,  those are apparently the easiest to read for many.   My students at least tend to read only those sections and skip the rest.

Why? For the author, Intro/Background and Discussion require hard, critical thinking about what is already known about the topic (Intro/Background) and then what one’s findings mean in light of that (Discussion).  For research consumers, the language used in these sections is more familiar, ordinary sounding words.  On the other hand, writing the technical nature of other sections (Methods, Instruments, Results) is pretty straightforward with scientifically standardized vocabulary and structure.  But, for readers, those same sections contain potentially unfamiliar research terminology that is not part of everyday conversation– i.e., scientific vocabulary.  Quantitative studies often create more reader difficulty.

My solution for myself as a writer? To spend time making sure that the first sentence of every paragraph in Intro/Background and Discussion makes a step-by-step argument supported by the rest of the paragraph. Follow standardized structure for the rest.  Keep  language  precise  yet  simple  as  possible.

Solution for research readers? Read the whole article understanding what you can and keep a research glossary handy (e.g., https://sites.google.com/site/nursingresearchaid/week-1. Even if practice doesn’t make you perfect, it works in learning a new language–whether it is  a ‘foreign’ language or a scientific one.

Critical Thinking:  Test out your reading skills with this article https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6503597/   .  Do the authors make systematic arguments in Intro/Background & Discussion? What makes this article hard or easy to read?

Happy Summer! -Dr.H

“It’s a jungle out there:” Predatory Journals

Cool. You completed your project and now want to publish it.

Beware! Predatory journals are ready to snap up your work!  It helps them, but not you.

What is a predatory journal?  One that can eat you and your paper alive.

  • tiger junglePredatory journals don’t meet quality peer-review standards.
  • The predator may post your manuscript online, which then vanishes from access.
  • If you are writing an article and cite a predator-published manuscript, you undercut your own credibility.
  • If you’re counting on the article for credit towards tenure, your personnel reviewers may toss a predator-published article aside. 0 credit for you & questions about your own credibility. [For more on this in nursing see: Owens, J.K. & Chinn, P. (2018, January 20). “Reference letters & the specter of publications in predatory journals, Nurse Author & Editor, 28(1), 2. Retrieved from http://naepub.com/peer-review/2018-28-1-2/]

Many predators are Open Access Journals. What are Open Access Journals?  Ones “that use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access” (https://doaj.org/faq#definition).

Open Access Journals may be legitimate OR predatory.

How can you identify predatory journals? While perhaps not Mighty Mouse—yep, I’m showing my age—help from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is on the way. DOAJ provides a searchable list of LEGITIMATE open access journals (click here)A quick search for “nursing” yielded 7.

How does DOAJ define quality  of journals? Quality open access journals “must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review (particularly in the Humanities) carried out by at least two editors” (https://doaj.org/faq#definition).

Is there a list of predatory open access journals? YES. To see one that is updated, click here. Also, you can help! If you find an open access journal that claims to have the DOAJ quality seal, but isn’t on the DOAJ legitimate journal list, DOAJ wants to hear from you!

For more on DOAJ, see https://doaj.org/: “DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent.”

predator raptorStay safe. As Randy Newman sings, “It’s a jungle out there.”

-Dr.H

Looks like a “Scholar Scam” to me! Caveat Emptor

Caveat emptor2Caveat Emptor! (“let the buyer beware”)   I got a string of emails that I suspect are phishing to get me to send $$$.  Does the emailer assume that I am in some sort of “publish or perish” greed mode?

The likely phisher got in touch with me via ResearchGate.  I love ResearchGate.  Seriously. It’s a great place to notify interested scholars of peer-reviewed work OR to post your work as ‘grey literature’ (i.e., “usually unpublished [work, including]… research reports, …evaluations, theses, dissertations, webcasts, poster sessions, presentations, conference proceedings, PowerPoint Presentations, etc..” per CSU/LB)

I christened the emails a “scholar scam.”  (Please disabuse me of this notion if you know better.)  First,I got an email asking if one of my ResearchGate-posted papers had been published. When I Scamanswered ‘no,’ I got a string of gmails  (not “.edu”) attempting to get me to add as author someone who is not an author, then with other requests.  Supposedly the advantage for me is to get help publishing.  Frankly, I don’t need the help. (If you do, please pick your own reputable scholar friends to assist.)

I suspect that the phisher wants to convince me to PAY with promises  of publication. The paying part would be real and the publication part likely imaginary.  (BTW: Anyone can pay to publish anytime without anyone else’s help.)  I was not yet asked for $$$, but if the emails continue, I expect that to come.

ummm….no thank you….Caveat Emptor!    

What do you think? Anyone else receive similar emails?-Dr.H

p.s. the article in question that is fulltext at ResearchGate – Highfield, MEF, Osterhues, DJ, & Chu, L. (2008) Religious & spiritual content in physical therapy curricula: A survey of U.S. program directors. Published on ResearchGate.

 

Trick-or-Treater OR Trick or Treater?

Communication is critical to effective dissemination of findings. Enjoy this bit of communication know how!

(I have no conflict of interest related to this blogger or the writing service promoted at its end.)

Grammar Party

trick or treat photo I don’t care about your stupid mask, lady. Put the candy in the bag.

How do you spell the name of those adorable (menacing) little children (vagrants) who knock on your door asking for (demanding) candy on Halloween night? Is it “trick-or-treaters” or “trick or treaters”? Hyphens or no hyphens?

The answer is: hyphens. The correct way to spell it is “trick-or-treater.”

But what about “trick or treat,” you say? Hyphens or no hyphens there? This one is a bit more complicated.

Let’s look at the two ways you can use “trick or treat,” as a verb and as a noun.

Verb: Sally dressed up as an amoeba to trick-or-treat.

Noun: As Sally dragged her candy sack home, she thought the trick or treat was successful.

When I wrote “trick-or-treat” as a verb, I used hyphens. Hyphens are always the answer when you use it as a verb. But…

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To Italicize or NOT to Italicize. That is the question.

So…after you do research or finish out your evidence-based practice project, you have to disseminate your findings, right?  That means good writing skills are necessary.

I stumbled into the GRAMMAR PARTY blog today when I wondered whether or not to italicize coup d’état. Do you know?  I didn’t.  Check out this helpful resource.

 

Grammar Party

Every once in a while, it feels good to add a snooty foreign word or phrase to your writing. I mean, what would the writing world be without a little je ne sais quoi? However, there are rules about how to treat these words and phrases on first reference, and that’s what today’s post is about. (After all, teaching language and style rules is Grammar Party’s modus operandi.)

Section 7.49 of the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Italics are used for isolated words and phrases in a foreign language if they are likely to be unfamiliar to readers. If a foreign word becomes familiar through repeated use throughout a work, it need be italicized only on its first occurrence. If it appears only rarely, however, italics may be retained.”

The question is: How do you know if a foreign word or phrase will be…

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