Writing for Publication:
OT6026 Occupational
Therapy Project 4
Íde O’Sullivan, Lawrence Cleary
Regional Writing Centre
Workshop outline
• Writing for publication
• Getting started: Motivation and time
• Key consideration:
– The writing process
– The rhetorical situation
– Academic writing style
• Structuring your paper
• Strategies to develop writing: Peer review
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• Why write for publication?
• Implications of publishing/not
• Misconceptions about writing and
• Common problems among new writers
• New writers’ worries/fears
• Difficulties associated with writing
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New writers’ errors
(Murray 2005:4)
• “Writing too much about ‘the problem’”
• “Overstating the problem and claiming
too much for their solution”
• “Overstating the critique of others’
• “Not saying what they mean, losing
focus through indirect writing”
• “Putting too many ideas in one paper”
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Difficulties associated
with writing
Anxiety and fear of writing
Lack of confidence and motivation
Cracking the codes of academic writing
Getting started
Lack of guidance, practice and feedback
Misconceptions of writing
– Good writing skills are innate X
– Think first, then write X
• The writing process is recursive
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The process
• Decide on the writing project
• Choose a target journal
• Get information about the journal
– Mission/vision of the journal
– Identify categories of submission
– Identify key subject areas
• Analyse the journal
• Select a sample paper from the target
• Follow the guidelines for authors
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The journal
• “The British Journal of Occupational Therapy
(BJOT) is the official journal of the College of
Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish
contributions of papers relevant to theory,
practice, research, education and management in
occupational therapy.”
• “Vision: A monthly journal presenting high quality
international research and practice related
papers that informs the knowledge and evidence
base of occupational therapy and is easily
accessible through online searches.”
British Journal of Occupational Therapy
February 2008, 71(2): 77
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Types of publications
Scholarly Papers
Short Reports
Research Articles/Papers
Practice Analysis/Evaluations
Critical Reviews
Case Histories/Reviews
Opinion Pieces
Letters to Editor
Book Reviews
Guest Editorials
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Analysing the journal
• Cracking the codes
• Analysing the genre/text and modelling
• Identify important criteria that will make
your writing more effective
• Ask yourself the following questions:
How is the paper structured?
How is the contribution articulated?
What level of context is provided?
What level of detail is used?
How long are the different sections?
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Analysing the journal
• What organisational features/patterns are
in evidence?
• How are arguments and counterarguments
presented and structured?
• What types of evidence are important?
• What stylistic features are prominent?
• Is the text cohesive? How does the author
achieve such cohesion?
• What kind(s) of persuasive devises does
the author employ?
• Voice?
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Guidelines for authors
• Categories of submission
• Preparation of the manuscript
– Copyright
– Ethics
– Layout
– Presentation
• Submission of the manuscript
• The review process
– Editorial process
– Editorial decisions
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Getting Started Writing
and Keeping Going
It is not too late
Take stock of where you are now
Outline your research project
Make plans based on the time that is left
Organise your time accordingly
Get writing
Keep writing
Get a writing buddy
Allow time for revision and to put it all
• Let family and friends know
• Be selfish with your time
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Where am I?
• What writing have you done and what
writing do you need to do in order to
complete your paper on time?
Keep writing non-stop for 5 minutes.
Write in sentences.
Do not edit or censor your writing.
Private writing -- no one will read it.
Discuss what you have written in pairs.
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Getting started
• Where and when do you write?
• Why are you not writing?
– “I don’t feel ready to write.”
– Writers’ block
• Getting unstuck
– Writing to prompts/freewriting (write
– Set writing goals
– Write regularly
– Integrate writing into your thinking
– Break it down into a manageable process
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Outlining (Murray 2006)
• Title and draft introduction
• Level 1 outlining
– Main headings
• Level 2 outlining
– Sub-headings
• Level 3 outlining
– Decide on content
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‘Writing in layers’
(Murray 2006:125-27)
• Outline the structure: write your section
heading for the research paper.
• Write a sentence or two on the contents
of each section.
• List out sub-headings for each section.
• Write an introductory paragraph for each
• At the top of each section, write the word
count requirement, draft number and date.
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Writing a ‘page 98 paper’
• My research question is …
• Researchers who have looked at this
subject are …
• They argue that …
• Debate centres on the issue of …
• There is work to be done on …
• My research is closest to that of X in that
• My contribution will be …
(Murray 2006:104)
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Key Considerations
Key stages in the process
• Pre-writing
• Drafting
• Revision
• Editing and Proofreading
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The rhetorical situation
• Occasion
• Topic
• Audience
• Purpose
• Writer
NB: Joining the conversation
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Organising principles
• Research question
• Thesis
• Hypothesis
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Stylistic differences that
mark academic writing
(Gillet 2008)
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Structuring your paper
Main Text
End Matter
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The manuscript
Literature review
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The introduction
• In academic writing, an introduction, or
opening, has four purposes:
To introduce the topic of the essay
To indicate the context of the
conversation through background
To give some indication of the overall
plan of the paper
To catch the reader’s attention, usually
by convincing the reader of its
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In brief….
• The introduction should be funnel shaped
• Begin with broad statements.
• Make these statements more and more
specific as the writer narrows the scope
of the topic and comes to the problem.
• Be sure that the question, hypothesis or
claim is one that can be handled in a
report of the length specified.
• This question, hypothesis or claim is
your thesis statement.
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Methodology and
research design
• In the methodology section, two main
issues are addressed:
– The methods used to gather data
– The methods used to analyse the data
• How were your results obtained and how
did you came to the conclusions put forth?
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Methodology and
research design
• Why and how did you choose the
targeted population/sample?
• Why did you choose the particular
• Is the methodology appropriate to
your field of study?
• Is the methodology appropriate to
the objectives of the study?
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Results and discussion
• The results section must not only
present the results; it must make the
results meaningful for the reader.
• The discussion should not simply
provide more detail about the
results; it should interpret and
explain the results.
• Methods of organising the results
and discussion.
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Organising the results
Accessibility (graphs, tables)
Use of appendices for raw data
Making the results meaningful
– Explanation
– Simplification
– Trends
– Significant results
– Relationships/correlations
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• Organising the discussion
• Summarise the main results in order to
remind the reader of your key findings.
• Put the results of the research into
• Support the validity of the results by
referring to similar results.
• Explain the differences between your
findings and that of previous researchers.
• Can you explain the unexpected results?
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• To what extend have the aims of the
study been achieved?
• How has your primary and secondary
research helped answer the research
question posed?
• Have your hypotheses been
proved/disproved/partially proved?
• Did the study raise any further
• Any recommendations for future
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Elements of a good
A conclusion should:
Remind the reader of the main
points of your argument
Bring ‘closure to the interpretation
of the data’ (Leedy 2001:291)
Be clear
Be logical
Be credible
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Academic principles
• Maintaining academic principles
– Ethics
– Referencing
– Honesty
– Objectivity
• Hedge. Distinguish between absolutes and
probabilities. Absolutes are 100% certain.
Probabilities are less than 100% certain.
• Be responsible. Provide traceable evidence
and justifications for any claims you make
or any opinions you have formed as a result
of your research.
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Logical method of development
Effective transition signals
Good signposting
Consistent point of view
Conciseness (careful word choice)
Clarity of expression
Paragraph structure
– Unity
– Coherence
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Paragraph structure
• What is a paragraph?
– Series of sentences
– Coherent (introduction, middle, end)
– Common theme
• Every sentence in a paragraph develops one topic or idea.
• Paragraphs signal the logically organised progression of
• The flow of information should be organised around
themes and comments.
• The main idea in one paragraph should flow logically into
the next.
• Shifts in the argument or changes in direction should be
accurately signalled using appropriate adverbials,
conjunctions, and prepositions.
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Paragraph structure
• Just as an essay is guided by a thesis
statement, a paragraph is organised
around its topic sentence.
• A topic sentence informs the reader of
the topic to be discussed.
• A topic sentence contains controlling ideas
which limit the scope of the discussion to
ideas that are manageable in a paragraph.
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Paragraph structure:
Supporting sentences
• The sentences that follow expand upon the
topic, using controlling ideas to limit the
discussion. The main idea is supported by
– Evidence in the form of facts, statistics,
theoretical probabilities, reputable,
educated opinions,
– Illustrations in the form of examples and
extended examples, and
– Argumentation based on the evidence
– Qualifying statements indicate the
limitations of the
support or argument. 40
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Paragraph structure:
Concluding sentences
• Not every paragraph needs a
concluding sentence.
• Concluding sentences can either
comment on the information in the
text, or
• They can paraphrase the topic
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Paragraph structure:
• Paragraphs should be unified.
• ‘Unity means that only one main idea is
discussed in a paragraph. The main idea
is stated in the topic sentence, and then
each and every supporting sentence
develops that idea’ (Oshima and Hogue
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Paragraph structure:
• Coherence means that your paragraph is
easy to read and understand because
– your supporting sentences are in some
kind of logical order
– your ideas are connected by the use of
appropriate transition signals
– your pronoun references clearly point to
the intended antecedent and is
– you have repeated or substituted key
(Oshima and Hogue 2006:22)
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(Meei-Fang et al. 2007:471)
People with dementia are particularly vulnerable to
malnutrition: they have a decreased ability to understand
directions and to express their needs verbally, are easily
distracted from eating, prone to become agitated, and may
use utensils incorrectly. Inability to feed oneself (eating
dependency) is a major risk factor for malnutrition among
older people living in long-term care settings (Abbasi &
Rudman 1994, Durnbaugh et al. 1996). When people with
dementia can no longer take food voluntarily, assistance is
required although, as the disease progresses, even taking
food with assistance can become difficult and, in some
instances, tube-feeding may be required to supply nutrition.
This form of feeding can, however, cause distress and
anxiety, not only for the person being fed, but also for
caregivers (Akerlund & Norberg 1985, Burgener & Shimer
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Reasons for rejecting manuscripts:
Brown, Rodger and Brown (2005:88)
Methodology or research design problems
Poorly developed idea
Poorly written
Data interpretation problems
Literature review not
relevant/comprehensive/up to date
Content undocumented
Statistical problems
Term-paper type article
Issues of validity, reliability and
trustworthiness not addressed
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Reasons for rejecting manuscripts:
Brown, Rodger and Brown (2005:88)
Poorly referenced
Content not important/significant
Discussion not based on results/findings
Content inaccurate
Content not consistent with journal
Implications of findings and results on
practice not included
Submission format guidelines not followed
Manuscript too lengthy
Key terms and concepts not clearly
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Reasons for rejecting manuscripts:
Brown, Rodger and Brown (2005:88)
• Aim/purpose of paper not clearly stated
• Limitations of research study not
• Content not current or timely
• Clinically not applicable
• Too technical
• Manuscript submitted concurrently to
another journal
• Subject/topic covered recently
• Content already scheduled for future
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Overview: Reasons for
Poor writing skills
Poor research skills
Failure to consider the journal’s audience
Failure to follow the journal’s guidelines
Before you start establish familiarity with
– The journal
– The audience
– The submission guidelines
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Strategies to Develop
Writing: Peer Review
Dialogue about writing
• Peer-review
• Generative writing
• The “writing sandwich” (Murray 2005:85):
writing, talking, writing
• Writing “buddies” (Murray and Moore
• Writers’ groups
• Engaging in critiques of one another’s work
allows you to become effective critics of
your own work.
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Writing an abstract
• Brown’s 8 questions (Murray, 2005:108114)
• Framework to help you draft an abstract
• Allows you to see the paper as a whole and
focus on the main points of the argument
• Written at an early stage in the writing
process, it helps you maintain the main
focus as you write the paper.
• Revise it as you go.
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Brown’s 8 questions
Who are the intended readers? (3-5 names)
What did you do? (50 words)
Why did you do it? (50 words)
What happened? (50 words)
What do the results mean in theory? (50
6. What do the results mean in practice? (50
7. What is the key benefit for readers (25
8. What remains unresolved? (no word limit)
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• Ebest, S.B., Alred, G., Brusaw, C.T. and Oliu, W.E. (2005)
Writing from A to Z: The Easy-to-use Reference Handbook,
5th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
• Shannon Consortium Regional Writing Centre, UL
• Strunk, W. and White, E.B. (2000) The Elements of Style,
4th ed. New York: Longman.
• Using English for Academic Purposes
• The Writer’s Garden http://www.
• The OWL at Purdue http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
• The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill http://www.unc.edu/depts
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Works cited
• Brown, T.G., Rodger, S. and Brown, A. (2005) ‘Publication
Practices of English Language Occupational Therapy
Journals’, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(2):
• Elbow, P. (1998) Writing without Teachers (2nd edition).
New York: Oxford University Press.
• Elbow, P. and Belanoff, P. (2003) Being a Writer: A
Community of Writers Revisited. New York: McGraw-Hill.
• Moore, S. and Murphy, M. (2005) How to be a Student: 100
Great Ideas and Practical Hints for Students Everywhere.
UK: Open University Press.
• Murray, R. (2005) Writing for Academic Journals. UK: Open
University Press.
• Murray, R. (2006) How to Write a Thesis (2nd edition). UK:
Open University Press.
• Murray, R. and Moore, S. (2006) The Handbook of Academic
Writing: A Fresh Approach. UK: Open University Press.
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Writing for Publication: OT6026 Occupational Therapy …