Learn the lessons of social media and adopt the three C’s:
- Catchy (i.e. you want it to be clickbait)
- Citable (i.e. shareable)
- Controversial (i.e. trolling)
This outline is based on advice from Pete Boettke. To some extent it’s a comment on best practice, but it also tries to map out a replicable blueprint. This is targeted at writing up a piece of traditional empirical work (i.e. testing a hypothesis) for publication as a journal article. Book chapters or theoretical papers have different foundations. Here is good guidance for positioning theory papers. If the empirical methods are non-quantitative, section 3 should include a discussion/justification.
Section 1: Introduction [2 pages]
- Why is this topic important? Why should the reader care about your contribution?
Section 2: Lit Review [5 pages]
- What has everyone said on this topic? What is missing?
Section 3: Methods [5 pages]
- How are you able to fill in this missing gap?
Section 4: Results [5 pages]
- What have you discovered?
Section 5: Conclusion [2 pages]
- Recap what was done, how you did it, and why we’ve learnt something
Some journals may request the following structure:
Title; Abstract: Key words; Introduction; Methods; Results; Discussion; Acknowledgements; Declaration of interests; References; Appendix. I think this works well for a traditional empirical paper but I don’t like the modern practice of integrating a lit review into the introduction with a series of ad hoc citations. Rather, the introduction and literature review serve two different purposes and should be kept separate.
Also, to bear in mind:
- Inputs and outputs – look at your references. They should reflect your target publication. If you’re citing books, you’ve written a book. If you’re predominantly citing journal articles in the same field as you’re writing in, you’re on the right lines
- Structure of production – it takes a lot of time to switch between a policy paper and a journal article. If you can submit a paper within 6 months of a start date that is doing well. Don’t try to rush the end result; focus on continual progress.