connecting chapters/chapter introductions

Writing a thesis, or indeed an academic book, means constructing an extended argument. One common problem in writing a very long text is that it’s not hard in 80,000 to 100,000 words for the reader to get lost in between chapters – they aren’t sure of the connection of one to the other and of how they work together to advance the case being made, move by move. And sometimes the writer can get lost too! That’s because chapters are often written in a different order to the order in which they are read, and sometimes they are written at very different times. Of course, sometimes the text is written straight through. But whatever the circumstances, it’s easy for both reader and writer to get lost in the overall argument because there is just soooo much detail to cover.

Here is one way to address the getting lost problem and one that many thesis writers find helpful. Confident and clever writers will find their own way to connect chapters together, but if you’re feeling a bit stuck this will help. It’s just a simple frame to use at the beginning of each new chapter. The frame – link, focus, overview – can be used for writing the first draft of the whole text. Because it’s a bit formulaic, it’s helpful to play with it on the second and third drafts so it reads more easily. But even when playing with it, keep the three moves because this is a good way to keep yourself as writer, and the reader, on track.

Paragraph One: LINK 
Make a connection to what has immediately gone before. Recap the last chapter. In the last chapter I showed that… Having argued in the previous chapter that… As a result of x, which I established in the last chapter….. It is also possible to make a link between this chapter and the whole argument… The first step in answering my research question (repeat question) .. was to.. . In the last chapter I …

Paragraph Two: FOCUS
Now focus the reader’s attention on what this chapter is specifically going to do and why it is important. In this chapter I will examine.. I will present… I will report … This is crucial in (aim of thesis/research question) in order to….

Paragraph Three: OVERVIEW
The third paragraph simply outlines the way that you are going to achieve the aim spelled out in the previous paragraph. It’s really just a statement of the contents in the order that the reader will encounter them. It is important to state these not simply as topics, but actually how they build up the internal chapter argument… I will begin by examining the definitions of, then move to seeing how these were applied… I first of all explain my orientation to the research process, positioning myself as a critical scholar.. I then explain the methodology that I used in the research, arguing that ethnography was the most suitable approach to provide answers to the question of…

Now, as I said, this is pretty mechanical and it doesn’t make for riveting reading. It’s meant for conventional theses and not those that break the mould. However, the bottom line is that it’s better to be dull and establish coherence and flow between chapters, than to have the reader, particularly if it’s your supervisor or the examiner, wondering what’s going on and how what they are now reading links back to what has gone before, and what the chapter is going to do. And if you’re the writer, it really does help keep you on the straight and narrow.

This post is the first of a four part series suggesting one strategy for achieving flow. Read the rest here, here and here.

Advertisements

Four classic ways to start a speech

If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you have to add value. You have to give them a reason to listen to your message. In other words: tell them what’s in it for them. There are four classic ways to start a speech, and the same four ways can be used to start a conversation (and writing the title of a paper or book) These are:

  • Tell them the benefit – what they will get from it. This is how most sales pitches work. For example: “This will get you more customers.”
  • The question – to make them think. For example: “Would you like to get more customers?”
  • The shock – their call to action. Say: “If we don’t get more customers, we’re out of business.”
  • The story – to engage them. Stories work particularly well to illustrate an example. So rather than going straight in with a hard pitch, you could tell a story about how your product helped another customer with a similar issue. Stories often sound better than a hard sell.

Source:

Kermode, R. (2016). Three ways to improve communication skills at work. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/careers/2016/jun/06/three-ways-improve-communication-skills-work

Provocation as a working tool (In spanish)

Xaquin Pérez-Sindín

Saskia Sassen (2016)

Yo quiero sorprender, quiero fa!, venir lateralmente y decir, que pasó aquí, o sea, mis públicos están despiertos…Es un libro chiquito en el que agarro el toro por los cuernos de este momento histórico…y digo, y esto es lo que yo veo, y no soy prudente. El trabajo académico requiere cierto tipo de prudencia. Uno puede señalar pero no, no vas a tomarlo por los cuernos y decir “all right”. Entonces es así, porque mis libros son aburridísimos, este libro no es tan aburrido.

View original post

How to choose an useful title for your article and chapter

I stumbled across this interesting article on how to choose useful titles for articles and chapters. I highly recommend reading the whole article, although I would point out the idea expresses in the bellow parragrah.

A third step is to consider using a full narrative title, one that makes completely clear what your argument, conclusions or findings are. Narrative titles take practice to write well. And they rarely work at the level of whole-book or whole-report titles. But they are often very effective for articles and chapters. One of my current best cited journal articles (written with colleagues) is ‘New Public Management is Dead — Long Live Digital Era Governance’. Here the title sums up the whole argument of the paper, and triggers two specific topics (‘New Public Management’ or NPM, and ‘Digital Era Governance’ or DEG).