Flourish: An Electronic Newsletter for Scholarly Writers
December 2009

vol. 5, no.10

As I was trying to write this month’s Flourish, a friend and I were IMing. I confessed to her that I was supposed to be writing the introduction to the latest issue, this part, and she asked how I could be doing two such different types of writing at the same time. It got me thinking: are they that different? Aren’t both conversations? Aren’t both about connecting? Doesn’t brainstorming matter to both? As I was trying to figure out how to make that observation work as an introduction, I realized that they had a further point in common. I was doing both as a form of procrastination–I have a journal article that is due Monday. So, I’m going to try to set a good model and not write this introduction. Here goes!


Over the years, I’ve heard great things about PHinisheD, an online community for graduate students just trying to finish the darn thing already! Apparently, lots of postdocs and junior faculty now also use it for writing camaraderie and accountability. One emailed to let me know that some are starting online writing groups using my book. Everyone buys a copy of the book and works through the exercises and reports in to each other on a weekly basis. Everything is conducted anonymously. You can find the thread on the daily board, then weekly board, under the thread title “Submit your journal article in 12 weeks!” Some are starting this week and some are starting in January; both are open to additional members. You have to register and participate to see the posts on the site. It’s free.

Typical Openings Analysis

In my book, I tried to analyze and present some standard openings to articles but I never approached the matter quantitatively. Interestingly, the professor of psychology James Hartley, who teaches at Keele University, has done statistical studies on several common aspects of journal articles. In recent articles in the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, he discusses twelve types of of opening sentences and thirteen types of titles in social science and science articles published in the United States and Britain. In his new book Academic Writing and Publishing, he discusses similar topics. Among his findings are that authors often fail to be specific enough in their article abstracts, leaving out details about those being studied (nationalities, numbers, ages, and sex) or why the study was carried out and what methodologies were used. He also noticed that creating or reporting on events was a popular article opening.

Articles on CVs

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation provides guidelines on listing as-yet-to-be published articles and books on your curriculum vitae. Here it is, verbatim. I’m not sure “under contract” works for articles as well, but we can start a trend. They also suggest separating into different sub-sections your peer-reviewed articles from your non-peer-reviewed articles.

  • In progress (still being written, not submitted for publication yet)
  • Under review (submitted to a journal or press)
  • Revising to resubmit (submitted to a journal or press and returned for revision)
  • Under contract (manuscript has been accepted by a press but may be undergoing revisions before final publication)
  • In press (manuscript finished, submitted to a journal or press and awaiting publication)

News from the Editor

I neglected to say in the last issue that I was in Ethiopia at the beginning of November for the International Ethiopian Studies conference, which was wonderful. It is so rare to be at a truly interdisciplinary conference where one can go from an anthropology panel to a political science panel to a philology panel and find them all fascinating. I was on a panel with only one other woman and I had wondered what she would be speaking about because the title of her paper was “In the Shade of the Shameless Branches Laden with Bright Red Flowers.” It turned out to be an amazing “paper,” actually a presentation from her autobiographical novel about growing up Italian Ethiopian, with the story of how her Italian grandfather and Ethiopian grandmother met and fell in love during the Italian invasion. You can read more about Gabriella Ghermandi and her fascinating work her online. Since I was presenting on seventeenth-century Ethiopian women who lead a revolution, our papers were surprisingly compatible, or at least so were we told by the large audience who showed up.