How to write effectively


How to... guides for authors

Whether you're a first-time writer/editor or a seasoned professional, our expert guides on planning, structuring and revising an article or book chapter, by yourself or with others, will help you master the craft of writing.

How to... conduct a systematic or evidence-based literature review

This article will describe the type of literature review which examines the literature on a subject with methods that are both explicit and transparent, and which follows a standard protocol or set series of stages. The aim is to reduce bias and provide a comprehensive body of knowledge on a particular subject, and/or evidence for a particular intervention.

How to... edit a multi-authored volume

Being a volume editor is challenging, but it is also not without its rewards, presenting an opportunity for the scholar to develop him or herself in a new direction. Editing a single volume is a chance to develop skills of selecting, shaping and reviewing which are all important in the scholarly world. This "How to..." guide looks at some approaches to putting a multi-author volume together, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls.

How to cyber-collaborate

People have collaborated over the creation of works of literature, science, art, music or design since humans first developed the capacity to write or, even before that, craft rudimentary objects. What is new in the twenty-first century is that sophisticated software tools make it far easier for people to collaborate over different time zones and places. Collaboration has always been important in academia, and the cyber-collaborating team of authors, whether on a textbook, monograph, reference work, academic article or blog, is becoming common. This article looks at this phenomenon, with special reference to one of the largest projects in the history of publishing: Charles Wankel's Management through Collaboration: Teaming in a Networked World, which employs around 1,000 authors from 90 countries.

How to... collaborate on writing an article

Many Emerald articles result from collaboration. Reasons for this include the: increasing importance of publication for tenure, promotion and satisfying the UK Research Assessment Exercise; tendency towards large, multidisciplinary projects; nature of research funding; pressure for PhD students to get out publications even before their PhD is approved; and greater ease afforded by electronic means of communication. This guide focuses on authorship and dissemination issues arising from collaborative research (issues concerning setting up a large research project team are covered in our Research Zone). This guide is based on the experiences of several authors from three continents.

How to... write for a practitioner audience

If you are an academic, then you have good job-related reasons to want to publish: your job and your promotion depend on you keeping up your publishing profile in quality scholarly journals. If you are a practising manager, however, writing for publication is not part of your job and can seem much less important than keeping up with your targets and the inevitable fire-fighting. This guide aims to explain the benefits of publishing to practising managers and to give advice on how to publish successfully.

How to... write more simply

Reviewers of academic papers often point out that the language is unnecessarily obscure and obtuse. The reviewer or editor feels there is a good point in there somewhere, but it is not easy for the reader to find. In contrast, good English is economical and spares redundant words. In Lost for Words: The Use and Abuse of the English Language, John Humphrys describes the qualities of good English: "... clear, simple, plain and unambiguous ... free of jargon, although there will be exceptions. It should be easy to read and listen to rather than a chore. At the very least it should not make our tongues fur up". This guide provides suggestions on how you can make sure your style is as clear as possible.

How to... prepare papers if English is not your first language

Preparing and writing an academic article for publication in an English language journal is a daunting experience for anyone, but particularly so if your first language is not English. This guide gives you some support with preparing articles in a non-native tongue. It is not possible to give specific advice about English, because teaching English as a foreign language is a highly specialized area requiring a great deal of skill. However, we will provide general advice on writing articles and list some useful resources including editing services.

How to... proofread your work

As far as writing an article for publication is concerned, we are talking about authors proofreading before it goes to production. In many ways, it is more like copy-editing, which is about close attention to the detail of the script, reading at sentence level to make sure there is nothing that can detract from accuracy and clarity, be it errors of grammar, inconsistency, spelling, or punctuation. "If a paper is not carefully checked, then it looks not just sloppy, but as though the author does not care. So why should anyone else?" (John Peters, former Emerald CEO and editor of Management Decision).

How to... use the Harvard reference system

The Harvard reference system, also known as the author-date system, is Emerald's approved system of citing other works. Articles submitted to Emerald are required to use this system. This guide explains how and where to use references within the text of your article and how to compile the reference list at the end. We also look at some of the software tools that are available to simplify these tasks.

How to... write a book review

Book reviews are a special form of academic writing. They have well-known structures with familiar components. Here, James Hartley of the School of Psychology, Keele University, UK, consults with academics on writing the perfect book review and presents a potential checklist for book reviewers.

How to... write a literature review

A literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic. It gives an overview of what has been said, who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, what questions are being asked, and what methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful. As such, it is not in itself primary research, but rather it reports on other findings.

How to... write an abstract

An abstract is a succinct summary of a longer piece of work, usually academic in nature, which is published in isolation from the main text and should therefore stand on its own and be understandable without reference to the longer piece. It should report the latter's essential facts, and should not exaggerate or contain material that is not there. Its purpose is to act as a reference tool (for example in a library abstracting service) and, more importantly, to enable the reader to decide whether or not to read the full text. It is your opportunity to gain readership and citation.

How to... structure your article

According to one survey on why articles fail to get published in economics journals, there are two main reasons. Either the paper does not make, or does not demonstrate that it makes, a contribution to knowledge or the paper is badly organized, with the parts not fitting together to form a coherent whole. These two factors, which rated more highly in this survey than targeting the wrong journal, both relate to the paper's structure. Papers that are well structured will have a logical organization with a beginning, a middle and an end, and above all a sense of purpose which communicates itself to the reader, will motivate him or her to continue reading in the belief that the author is making a contribution to knowledge.