Tuesday, July 25
End of summer sees several big social science association meetings (e.g. management, political science, sociology) not to mention assorted other professional get-togethers so I can't possibly be the only one starting to get anxious about meeting deadlines. Of course, giving a presentation is one thing, writing a paper is another. Unfortunately, some of my upcoming obligations require both.

I'm looking for suggestions on how to best approach a quick and dirty paper draft. For some of the presentations I will be giving, I'm also required to disseminate a paper. And since there are discussants, it looks like someone may actually read said paper.

I do have an outline, sort of. In grad school I learned the value of outlines, wow, they can be really helpful. So that is more or less done, including the major questions of the paper (while that should be an obvious given, don't tell me you have not read papers that go on for 30 pages and never state a clear research question so I felt this point was worth noting explicitly). So anyway, I have an outline and I have a question. I am also familiar enough with related literature that that part should be okay. What I don't have is all of the analyses, which then also means that I don't have all (any?) of the findings ready either.

My current strategy is as follows. Start working on the presentation slides. That way I will get a better sense for which analyses are most important and need to be performed immediately. But I will still have to write something that's in paper form. (Note to people from various fields in the audience: social science papers are usually at least 20 pages if not 30 or more so we're not just talking a short piece here.) So how do I get the actual paper ready? Needless to say, I have just about no time to work on any of this due to too many other obligations that are, of course, just as pressing.

PS. No need to point out that instead of writing this post I could've probably made some advances in the paper. I know that. But that didn't stop me. And thus my need for advice.


fraud, in denim said...

I would work on those slides, and on the analyses, and just write out what you think you'll say in the presentation. Even if you're not someone who "reads" their presentations. That gets the paper/presentation/slides done in one swoop and the audience will appreciate that the discussant draws on stuff from your actual talk rather than "Well the author didn't devote time to this in the talk, but in the paper..."

Good luck!

Turquoise Stuff said...

Fraud, that's a really good point about having a consistent presentation and paper. And while I tend to write my papers already as though I was telling a story to someone, I like the idea of thinking of it even more in the context of the presentation. I never read presentations, but I do practice them at least once in my head. So instead of practicing it in the abstract, I could practice it right onto the paper. Great idea!

thistle said...

I don't know if this is a problem for you, or appies at all, but one trap I have fallen into with quantitative analyses (which it sounds like you're doing) when writing papers for courses is that I'll come up with an initial model specification, then spend hours, days, weeks, etc. trying out alternative specifications and modeling strategies. Even when you're documenting things well along the way, writing up the findings from 5 different specifications takes at least 5 times longer than just running 1 model and reporting the findings. So forcing yourself to run and report the initial specification and not tweeking anything might be a speed-up strategy. No matter what you present, the discussant is likely to suggest you re-run the analyses slightly differently anyway, so why do their work for them?

Turquoise Stuff said...

Thanks, thistle. Yeah, I was thinking about that and I think you're definitely right that this may not be the stage of the project where one tries to figure out every possible scenario.

BTW, I like your color square. I'm going to have to figure that out one of these days.

thistle said...

turquoise: I made the color square in Paint (my favorite microsoft accessory), and then I pasted it into one of my a.secret posts (even though it annoyed clear). Then, you can follow the directions from blogger on uploading a picture into your profile, using the link from the a.secret post.

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