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Dr. Mia's Favorite Books on Writing

Academic writing skills is such a crucial skill set for professors to master early in their professional career. I've compiled a list of my favorites, mostly for academics trained as behavioral scientists. Some apply to all academic writing.

For Psychologists & Behavioral Scientists

 Sternberg, R. J. (2000). Guide to publishing in psychology journals. Cambridge University Press. 

  • Start here.  This book has a wealth of information for psychologists and behavioral scientists. There is a chapter for every section of a manuscript. Each chapter addresses the goals of each manuscript section. The chapters also provides practical tips and reviews strategies for writing every section of a journal article manuscript. 

For All Academic Writers

Belcher, W. L.(2019). Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, Second Edition: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (2nd Edition). University of Chicago Press.

  • This is a wonderful structured guide for writing an academic journal article across disciplines. It removes a lot of the mystery from the writing process if the reader is disciplined enough to apply the steps in a systematic manner. It is full of worksheets and exercises to help the author break down the writing process into digestible pieces. It is a useful book to recommend to students who are learning to write for publication. 

Strunk, W., & White, E. B. The Elements of Style.

  • A classic. Every serious writer should own a copy and apply its wisdom.

Williams J. M. Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace.

  • When we are learning to master the academic writing style, we often write in an overly technical manner  with jargon and heavy reliance on passive voice.  This can obscure our writing voice and ability to 'tell a story" about our research findings. Compelling academic writing is also great story telling.  We are simply telling a story about about research findings. This text provides useful guidance on ways to bring our voices back to the material in a way that helps us tell a compelling narrative about our research findings.

 

Booth,W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. The Craft of Research (4th Ed.). University of Chicago Press.

  • What makes this text distinct is the way it weaves guidance about writing into the way we think about research design more broadly.  It helps the author think like the reader in terms of development of research ideas in text and writing persuasively. I think that the capacity to think like the reader is one of the most overlooked skills in the writing process, and yet it's critical because of the peer review process. 

 

Day R. A. (1998) How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 5th Ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

  • I’ve found great tips in Day’s book about managing publishing that I didn’t find anywhere else.  This is a solid step-by-step manual with a few writing gems that are not to be missed.  A great text to have when you do not have a lot of mentoring support for developing your academic writing skills.

 Every writer needs to have the following resources to writing process:

  1. An excellent unabridged dictionary and thesaurus (and online links in your computer bookmarks to your favorite online dictionaries/thesauruses)

  2. A writer’s handbook that contains a more comprehensive treatment of writing basics.  It should include topics like composing and revising, paragraph construction, sentence construction, word choice, grammar, punctuation, and editing your writing.  I use the Bedford Handbook for Writers, but there are others.

  3. Any other handbooks or manuals that are essential to writing in your field (e.g., Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).

Keep a copy in all places where you write so that your writing flow is not interrupted by lack of access to these important resources.

Good luck!

 Dr. Mia

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