Monday, February 22, 2016

Writing :: A good idea is not enough

Spinuzzi, Clay/Jakobs, Eva-Maria/Pogue, Gregory (2016): A Good Idea Is Not Enough: Understanding the Challenges of Entrepreneurship Communication. In: International Conference on Competitive Engineering - Resource Efficiency for Global Competitiveness (Coma 2016), 27.1. bis 29.1.2016. Stellenbosch University (ZA), Proceedings, 547-552

This is another in my series on writing articles. In this case, it's an article that my colleague Eva Jakobs was kind enough to present at COMA 2016 in South Africa. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it.

But writing the article was really useful for us. It's an overview article that pulls together the research we have done at IC2 over the last few years, studying entrepreneurship communication across several related research studies. The individual studies allowed us to draw specific conclusions about cases; the overview paper let us step back and develop broader conclusions. 

Although I'm lead author, the other authors were quite active, writing portions and critiquing others. We collaborated by emailing Word attachments (not my favorite way to collaborate—I prefer Google Docs, but not everyone did). To keep things straight, we used Track Changes. And we had to struggle to shrink the paper down to the requisite six pages. 

In fact, I should say something here about page limits. They frustrate me, but they typically result in better, clearer writing. I find myself paying far more attention to clarity, brevity, and word choice than I would normally; I prune citations that aren't doing enough work; I ask whether this figure is really needed; and I cut block quotes. In fact, I'm starting to think that I should force myself to follow an arbitrary page count for the final version of my publications, just to push my writing to be better and clearer. (But not for my initial submissions, where I'm more concerned about expressing the broad sweep of the argument and probing what the reviewers think of it.)

Is this paper clearer because of those limits? Click through and see what you think!

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