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  • Julie T. Kinn 1:49 pm on January 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: names, promotion, search engine optimization, search terms, sexy, titles   

    Sex it up: Alluring titles and other readership boosters 

    We have a leader board in my office to show our “expert blog” hits on AfterDeployment.org. Since I’m the newest member of the team my ranking is sadly at the bottom. I decided to stir things up this month by writing Sex After Deployment: Tips for heating things up (please forgive the capitalized preposition). In my defense, sexual dysfunction is a serious problem for returning combat veterans. But, yeah, I mostly wanted the hits.

    So, how important are playful/sexy/witty titles? Of course there’s not one standard rule-of-thumb. It all depends on the type of media. Consider both the home of the work and the ways users find it.

    Alluring and sexy graphic

    1) Journal articles.

    Peer-reviewed journal articles don’t need splashy titles. Few readers surf through the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Immunity just looking for a snappy read. Most likely readers find these works through academic search engines like EBSCO Host. As such, the focus should be on writing the clearest title possible, including the most likely search terms. I recommend using a subtitle if it helps you fit in additional search terms. For example, this title includes both “measure” and “scale development.”

    “A new measure of [insert paradigm]: scale development of the [insert scale name].”

    2) Conference presentations.

    Go ahead and sex it up, as long as the title clearly explains the topic. During the opening plenary session, conference attendees will pick through the itinerary looking for topics that will either serve their work or maintain their interest.

    3) Poster presentations.

    Eh. No one cares. Do whatever you want.

    4) Informal writing (blog posts and other writing for the Internet).

    Well, as I write this, my sexy blog post on AfterDeployment.org has had 223 views (helping me maintain my low status). Writing for the Internet relies heavily on both social marketing (i.e., Facebook likes) and search engine optimization (SEO). The title of your piece is critical. Utilize effective search terms and try to tease the reader. However, accompanying graphics are likely more significant for boosts on Facebook (see Figure 1).

    What tips can you share? Did you only click on this to see more stick-figure-pornography?

  • Julie T. Kinn 5:30 pm on January 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , edit, ego, , , , track changes   

    Constructive Criticism Part II: Taking It 

    Last week I blogged about ways to provide feedback. This week is all about receiving feedback from others.

    If you are currently a graduate student or a recent Ph.D., then you likely have a low enough ego to easily accept constructive criticism (please refer to Figure 1). However, it can still be difficult to wade through pages of red ink, tracked changes and blinded reviewer feedback.

    Criticism can hurt. We work hard on our writing, and sometimes a paper represents the culmination of years of work. As we point out in Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles, you are much more than just your writing. It’s crucial to understand that other academics aren’t trying to put you down by offering you feedback. This is just part of the process of improving our work and developing our skill sets.

    In graduate school I used to fantasize that my dissertation chair would return a pristine draft of my proposal with only the comment, “Spectacular!” Instead, I always received pages full of comments, questions, and nearly indecipherable scribbles. It took me a couple revision cycles to realize what an incredible gift those edits were.

    When you receive edits from a talented writer, don’t just make the changes: Think about the changes. Well-thought out revisions are like a lesson in improving your writing skills using your own product as a case-in-point.

    Those undergrads will learn soon enough.

    Figure 1. The distribution of writing ego across career path.

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