5 Good Deadline-Meeting Habits 五個養成準時交稿的好習慣之二

Authors of academic papers have other things to do. In the general busyness of academia, the deadline for a paper to be handed in or published can get overlooked. The subsequent scramble to complete the paper on time can be painful. Painless deadline-meeting can be learned like any other habit. This series will describe some habits that not only make deadlines less threatening but can improve the quality of the papers themselves. Each of the habits will be presented on the TPS Fan page before being compiled.

Good Habit # 2 – Do the worst first

This habit is a good one to develop for any sort of task. It plays to a writer’s psychology (or anyone else’s psychology) through deferred gratification. It holds in reserve something to do that a person happily anticipates doing rather than dreads doing. Dread is not a motivator. It doesn’t spur movement. Thus, when a dreaded part of a task is still ahead, people put it off till… “later.” They drag out the enjoyable tasks, milking them more than being enriched by them. The impact is very much like the spinning of wheels: Momentum is slowed just when a final push is needed.

To use thisstrategy of worst-first, it is important that a writer-researcher know himself.He should acknowledge to himself his least favorite tasks. Example: If perusingbound, published material is more enjoyable than compiling data from loose-leafand online sources, do the tedious collection before the reading. Also, researchrequires meticulous note-taking and ordering of notes, or else it is wastedeffort; if you don’t like taking and ordering notes—do them now, carefully, without deferring them till… “later.”You know what you don’t like. Go ahead and get it out of the way.

Once again, this habit of ordering necessary tasksaccording to personal likes and dislikes can only be developed if awriter-researcher has discipline. When someone has proceeded to a point whereacademic writing is a regular part of his life, the assumption is that theperson can regulate his activity. He can do what he knows he needs to do, rather than wants to do.Another example: If second drafts are a problem for a writer, he should do itwithin a day or two of the first draft, rather than waiting till… “later.” Whenthe worst is behind, such procrastination is not a problem.
我再次強調,這項根據喜好排列工作優先順序的習慣,唯有當研究者能自律才培養得起來。如果學術寫作早已成為你生活中的一部分,你就必須懂得約束自己的行為,知道自己必須做甚麼,而不是想要做甚麼。再舉個例子。如果寫第二份草稿是你最討厭的部分,就應該在完成第一份草稿的一、兩天內寫完第二份草稿,千萬不要「等一下」。 只要先解決最討厭的部分,拖延的症頭就會不藥而癒了。

Last Update at 2013-05-14 AM 10:55 | 0 Comments

Vacation Notice

Dear Fans,

Wewill take a break April 4-7 for Tomb Sweeping Day, tipping our hats to ourancestors, without whom, of course, we wouldn’t be who we are. We hope you willdo the same plus enjoy a short vacation from the academic life. We’ll be backnext week with some more academic assistance. See you then!

TPS Team

Last Update at 2013-05-14 AM 10:53 | 0 Comments

5 Good Deadline-Meeting Habits 五個養成準時交稿的好習慣之一

Authors of academic papers have other things to do. In the general busyness of academia, the deadline for a paper to be handed in or published can get overlooked. The subsequent scramble to complete the paper on time can be painful. Painless deadline-meeting can be learned like any other habit. This series will describe some habits that not only make deadlines less threatening but can improve the quality of the papers themselves. Each of the habits will be presented on the TPS Fan page before being compiled.

Good Habit # 1 – Get started
好習慣之一 開始做就對了

For all the talk about a deadline being a motivator and a planning tool, it mostly is an unforgiving date looming in the distance. As one draws nearer to it, it looms higher. In the shadow of it, a deadline can be quite terrifying. A disciplined academic writer knows this and accepts this. A smart disciplined writer goes one step further and takes steps to remove the terror from a deadline so that it doesn’t loom at all. It becomes simply another date on a calendar. The first habit about deadlines that a smart writer develops is to start working on a paper as soon as it is assigned.

Early starts aren’t all about use of time and making every day count, though that is important. Writers who take a small sabbatical at the beginning of every paper project are not just wasting time—though they are—they also are indulging themselves. We all know some indulgences are better than others, with timing often being the critical issue. A runner who lets himself be distracted at the start of a race pays a price and curses his luck. A writer who gives his mind a break when he should be brainstorming a subject will find other excuses as a project goes along.

This falls under the heading of Discipline. I repeat, starting a project on day one is not just about use of time. It is about becoming mentally engaged in a project at the outset, rather than at some later date. After all, an academic paper should not be a dreaded assignment. It is an opportunity to stir your intellect, learn something new, and advance your academic career through research and writing. What is to dread about that? Neither should a deadline be dreaded. It is just another appointment on your academic calendar, just another part of your scholarly routine. Get started!

Last Update at 2013-05-14 AM 10:51 | 0 Comments

Welcome back! 歡迎TPS粉絲回來!

Dear TPS Fans,

Welcome back for an eventful Year of the Snake. It will be a propitious time for writers possessing wisdom, ambition, and determination. Is that you?
We will be there for you as you progress. Stay tuned!

TPS Team

Last Update at 2013-02-19 AM 11:17 | 0 Comments

Vacation Notice

Dear Fans,

We will take a long break Feb. 9-15 for Chinese New Year Holidays. We hope you make a clean sweep of things on the eve of the new year and prepare for another year of learning and academic accomplishment. We will do the same and be back Feb. 18.

Till next year…!

TPS Team

Last Update at 2013-02-08 PM 1:19 | 0 Comments

What does that mean? 你真的瞭解這個慣用語嗎?

Imagery buries itself in language and takes on new meaning. The transplanted and transformed word or set of words is called a “figure of speech.” For a figure of speech to be effective, however, a writer must first understand the original meaning of the word or phrase. The following sentence contains a common figure of speech. Its original meaning is explained.

“When the morning sunlight struck the fallen snow, tiny explosions of light made me turn away and shake my eyes free of dazzlement.”

Explosions are marked by violent change. A settled piece of soil suddenly is sent skyward by TNT. A quiet room instantly is rocked by a gunshot that leaves ringing in our ears. The altered state not only is dramatic in its sweep—from zero to 10 on a 10-point scale of change—it occurs in a split second. The human reaction to such change is protective. Our instinctive response to a percussive explosion, whether or not it actually threatens us, is to tense our muscles and senses. We wince, crouch, turn and run, protect our ears or eyes, sometimes cry out or gasp in alarm.

To describe the glint of sunlight off a blanket of fresh, white snow as “explosions of light” conveys several properties of the light. First, it is bright. Nothing in the imagery, nor in our experience, suggests that a bright sun and snow produce soft light. It is piercing in its intensity. Furthermore, when the angle of the sunlight and pitch of the earth is just right, the ricocheting light beams strike our retinas and the effect is dazzling. What do we do? We blink our eyes, turn our head, exclaim about the brightness—as if our eyesight had been assaulted by an… explosion.

Last Update at 2013-02-07 AM 10:55 | 0 Comments

Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問

The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I once listened as a scholar talked about the need to make an academic paper not only content-rich and weighty, but also “charming.” That sounded too trendy to me and not very scholarly. Is there anything to the scholar’s suggestion?

Do you wish to be charming? Do you wish to charm your professor? If we were honest, each of us would admit to wanting to be charming. After all, to charm is to be found extremely pleasing or delightful. How is that not desirable? The problem is that while all children are deemed charming, the quality usually is ascribed to someone of the opposite gender. Women find men charming and vice versa, whereas men usually aren’t “charmed” by other men, and so on. There is an unspoken seductive import to the word as it usually is employed in our conversations.

The professor was not strictly thinking of seduction in recommending that writers strive to be charming. He was talking about writing appealingly. Some scholars believe that turgid writing is the way to capture the attention of peers, with pomposity always preferable to simplicity. Others have convinced themselves that colorless, didactic, and wooden writing is the way to communicate with academic peers. The scholar you mention obviously believes story-telling, vivid imagery, light humor, and irony are not prohibited in formal writing. They are effective.

After all, a reader who is charmed is more likely to be persuaded to a point of view, to be convinced of a proposition. The perhaps unfortunate truth is that men and women who are presentable and likeable are more promotable than unkempt and surly people, no matter their credentials. In the same way, while substance and research should not be compromised, nor the formatted rules of academic writing violated, there is wisdom in writing papers that are enjoyable, even fun, to read. Academic peers and professors are not immune to the appeal of charm.

Last Update at 2013-02-07 AM 10:54 | 0 Comments

0204 TPS Finish the Sentence Contest-Answer and Explanation你是接龍的高手嗎? 正確解答!

Answer: We believe the sentence is best completed this way:

“The surface of the water rippled almost imperceptibly as the huge crocodiles tucked their feet and raced toward the tipped canoe like children to spilled candy.”

The glee of children scrambling to get candy accidentally spilled onto a floor might seem inapt in describing the horror of crocodiles swimming toward people spilled into the water. Yet the juxtaposition of horror and delight tends to magnify each. Thus, the thought of crocodiles swimming to consume swimmers is made more chilling by comparing it to children running to consume candy. Furthermore, from the crocodiles’ point of view, the comparison is straight-forward—people are like candy to them—and just like the children, the crocodiles know that the first croc on the scene will get the biggest portion. Writing that vivifies through word choices and images strengthens the hold on a reader.

Last Update at 2013-02-05 AM 10:33 | 0 Comments

0204 TPS Finish the Sentence Contest-Win Your NTD200 Eslite Bookstore and Shopping Mall Gift Certificate! 你是接龍的高手嗎? 有機會獲得200元誠品圖書商場購物禮卷!

怎麼寫出好句子沒有標準答案,不過起碼我們知道,優秀的句子每個環節都很完美。下面有一句未完成的句子,請用五個字以內完成句子接龍,寫出完整的句子。最先完成句子,並寫出最佳解答的一位TPS 粉絲,將獲得兩百元誠品圖書商場購物禮卷;另增設特別獎一名,頒給符合文意又別具創意的粉絲。接龍解答與獲獎粉絲姓名將在明天公布於本 TPS 專頁,敬請密切鎖定、先睹為快!
No formula exists for the writing of a superior sentence, but this much is known: The best sentence has no weak part. The following sentence is incomplete. In five or fewer words, complete the sentence in a way that strengthens the whole of it. The first TPS Fan to complete the sentence as we believe it is best completed will win a NTD200 Eslite Bookstore and Shopping Mall Gift Certificate. Another Eslite certificate will be awarded to the first Fan to complete it in an alternate way that, in our estimation, also is effective. The explanation and the names of the winners will be published tomorrow on this TPS Fans page.

題目Contest Sentence:

“The surface of the water rippled almost imperceptibly as the huge crocodiles tucked their feet and raced toward the tipped canoe like __ __ __ __ __.”

Last Update at 2013-02-05 AM 10:31 | 0 Comments

This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的

Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. This column examines short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and to explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“The unearthed calendar caught the archaeologists by surprise because it seemed to be a combination of modern and ancient calendars, and that was not a good thing. The calendar clearly was post-Gregorian in its arithmetic, yet it showed Roman events and holidays that everyone believes the Roman civilization stopped celebrating before Pope Gregory ascended to the papacy. The team leader, Dr. Geoffrey Antiopas, called his team together in the field office to resolve the questions raised by the unpleasant find. The fear that hovered over everything was that finding a calendar that might not be authentic tainted the entire dig. If the calendar were officially determined to be fraudulent, it threw into question if any of the discovered material was legitimate discovery.”

This paragraph about a jittery scientific field team is quite interesting despite its flaws. The writing illustrates the power of “story,” of the power of a strong topic or argument to compensate for weak writing. A superior paper will have both a strong subject and strong writing. Anyway, the writing is mostly weak for its wordiness and casual wording. The phrase “and that was not a good thing” is an almost comic comment inserted without any context. In another place, the writer asserts that “everyone believes” something, a sweeping remark of universal dimension—everyone? The writer also describes the calendar discovery as “unpleasant” when in fact detecting fraud always is good, if unfortunate. All in all, this is rather sloppy writing.
略過缺點不談,這段描寫感到緊張的科學考察團相當有趣。強調「故事」本身的力道、強健的主題或是論點的力度,能彌補文筆方面的疲弱。好的文章具備強而有力的主題外,也包括有力的寫作手法。亦即,過度雕琢或閒適的文筆會削弱文章的力道。像這句「and that was not a good thing」,在缺乏前後文解釋的情況下,突然插入本句評論顯得相當可笑。另外,作者斷言「眾人皆信」某事物,這話說得過為籠統,與everyone有何干係呢?作者也提到日曆的發現相當「不愉快」。其實若不幸被騙,能偵破這類詐騙事件總歸是件好事。總之,這段文章相當馬虎。

Acceptable 認可的文章

“The unearthed calendar surprised the team of archaeologists because it seemed a compound of modern and ancient calendars. It clearly was post-Gregorian in its arithmetic, yet it depicted Roman events and holidays that scholars believe the Roman civilization stopped celebrating prior to Pope Gregory. Dr. Geoffrey Antiopas assembled his team in the field office to resolve the questions raised by the find. The underlying team fear was that the calendar’s presence at the site could taint the entire dig. Were the calendar officially determined to be fraudulent, it would raise the question about how much, if any, of the excavated material was legitimate discovery.”

Last Update at 2013-02-01 PM 1:26 | 0 Comments