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  • Julie T. Kinn 7:00 pm on December 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, point of view, POV   

    Point of View in Academic Papers: When to Choose First- or Third-Person 

    Much of academic writing is constrained by our disciplines. We do not get to experiment with creative interpretations of language and style. In fact, we pretty much follow a distinct set of rules, such as the APA Publication Manual, if we ever want to be published. However, we do get a few choices here and there, including first-person or third-person point of view (POV). In general, always check with the author guide on your target journal’s website. Some journals will specifically state which POV to use. If there is no guidance, then review the most recent issue of the journal to see if there is a standard. If the results are mixed, then the choice is yours! Here’s a few tips for choosing wisely.

    Third-Person Point of View

    Third-person POV has a lot going for it. It is the traditional style and comes across as more formal (is sciencier a word yet?). Such formality can be helpful when your topic is “The individuated hobbit: Jung, Tolkien, and the archetypes of Middle-Earth.” Another benefit is that authors can differentiate between team members without giving credit incorrectly. This is useful when some of the authors may not have been involved with all aspects of the project, and a blanket “we” seems inappropriate. For example, one could write, “the research assistants debriefed participants immediately following the interview.”

    A danger of third-person POV is that it’s easier to fall into the trap of passive voice. For example, consider this quote from “Star Wars: A developmental study of expert and novice knowledge structures:

    “A probe procedure determined whether a subject could successively identify a basic action and its related subgoals and high-level goals.”

    Yucky passive voice! A probe procedure isn’t sentient and didn’t determine anything… humans did. Sticking with the third-person POV, the authors should have written the  sentence above as:

    “The authors used a probe procedure to determine whether…”

    Yeah, sounds kind of stilted, but that’s the nature and glory of third-person POV.

    First-Person Point of View

    First-person POV is my personal preference because I believe it is easier to read. Since I often write about suicide and suicide prevention, I like my academic writing to be as warm and personal as possible. In some disciplines, first-person POV is standard to help elucidate the authors’ personal connections to the topic-at-hand. I always get a kick out of disclosures like this:

    “With regard to full disclosure, we acknowledge long histories of working with individuals with tattooing and body piercings (at least six previous studies and more than 25 years of  advanced clinical practice in women’s health care). None of us, however, have tattoos or piercings other than pierced ear lobes.”

    If you are using qualitative analysis, don’t even think about third-person POV!

    Second-Person Point of View

    Really? Do we need to discuss second-person POV? The only acceptable times to use it are:

    • Informal blogs
    • Choose your own adventure books
    • A bizarre combination of the two

    Any other use gets the red pen!

  • Julie T. Kinn 10:10 am on November 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: evernote, head injury, memory, mTBI, pocketmod, writing tools   

    My New Backup Brains, or What I Learned from my Recent Head Injury 

    Gentle Readers, you may have noticed a lag since my last post. About 6 weeks ago I was in a car accident, and I’ve been milking that for a while (trying to get out of changing poopy diapers, etc.). Overall, I was lucky – my air bags deployed and I received only minimal external injuries. It took me a couple of days to take my head injury seriously, which is ironic considering that I oversee a team that makes mobile health applications for things like mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

    My first clue that something upstairs wasn’t working properly should have been my terrible decision making immediately following the accident, plus the fact that I couldn’t remember any phone numbers. The day after the accident, I got lost while driving. Twice. [Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have been driving. I’ll add that to my list of stupid things I did in the week following my accident.]

    The day after that, as I was getting ready for work, I couldn’t figure out which contact lens went in which eye. I only stayed at work for about an hour, during which time I realized I couldn’t really understand my email and I still couldn’t remember my phone number. Finally a coworker had to scold me before it really sunk in: my grey cells were slightly scrambled.

    Things are pretty much back to normal now. I feel like my cognitive functioning has completely returned, and I am grateful. Overall, this experience has taught me two things:

    1) There are a lot of good writing and memory aids out there. While I was struggling at work in the few weeks following the accident, many folks tuned me into helpful memory and work aids. A couple have been especially helpful for my writing, so I wanted to share them with you all.

    Evernote is a mobile app and website with a cloud-based server that can sync your writing, recordings and photos whether you input them from your smartphone (iPhone or android phone), tablet computer (iPad, kindle fire, etc), or online from a desktop or laptop computer. The mobile interface can be a bit confusing, but once you’ve figured out the navigation, it’s pretty terrific. I like that I can record a note to myself while driving, and it annotates it with the time and place. I can then retrieve it from any device/computer later on. Plus, it has a cute logo. If you’re really into Evernote, here’s a cool post from a SuperUser.

    PocketMod. I love, love, love PocketMod. If I wasn’t already hitched, I would try to marry it. Quite the opposite of Evernote, PocketMod is delightfully low-tech. It’s essentially a folded up paper booklet to help you organize your thoughts. You go to the website and select what kind of information you want in the booklet (to-do lists, blank lines for writing, calendars, tip calculator, etc), and then you print it, do some cutting and taping, and Ta Da: A back-up brain to carry with you on your journey. [So — at the time of this post, the PocketMod site seems to be having some difficulty due to its popularity. Here is a shortcut to the app. PocketMod, I am seriously questioning our imaginary engagement!]

    2) It’s hard to ask for help. I feel much more empathy for our service members who receive head injuries. Part of why I didn’t want to take my mTBI seriously is that I didn’t want to look weak by asking for help. At the scene of the accident, paramedics asked if I was okay. They bandaged my cuts, but I said I was otherwise fine. That was my opportunity to let someone help me, and I blew it off. I really can’t imagine how hard it would be to ask for help for a head injury following a vehicle blast while others have visible injuries. I’m more committed than ever to helping reduce stigma related to head injury and other psychological and physiological health issues. To learn more about brain injury and some amazing work to help prevent and treat mTBI, I suggest the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC).

  • Julie T. Kinn 2:23 pm on September 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: article idea, testing theories   

    Writing Exercise: Question Everything 

    For a few short months I had the pleasure of the most beautiful office of my life, overlooking the Tacoma History Museum. Part of the fun was being next-door-office neighbors with Dr. George Mobus, owner of way too many houseplants and author of an intriguing blog, Question Everything.

    When I’m in need of a brain cell refresh, I do exactly this. I like to consider a known principle and ask myself the following questions:

    1. How do I know this principle is true?
    2. How can I test this principle?
    3. How would my discipline change is this principle was disproven?

    Try it out… what are some principles or guiding theories in your work? An investigation into the evidence behind the principles could be a great paper.

    Transformers... more than meets the eye!

    The danger of a subjective outcome variable

  • Julie T. Kinn 4:42 pm on August 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: project conceptualization   

    Kissy-Smoochy Research Advice 

    For the last three posts, I focused on how to complete projects you hate (accepting the hate, strategies for motivation, and strategies for survival). Today I’m switching gears to discuss projects we love. Here’s a quick question for you: What’s your favorite current writing or research project?

    If you answered right away, I hope it was an internal response because people will start worrying about you if you talk to yourself. Also, if you answered right away that’s great news; it means you have at least one fulfilling and intrinsically motivating project. Today’s post is aimed at those of you who are still struggling to identify a favorite project.

    First, let’s develop some insight into why you’re not excited about any of your work. Take a couple of minutes to sit back and reflect on the kinds of work you do, and why none of it is floating your boat.

    My guess is that most of you will answer that you just don’t have time to add on any additional projects right now, and that the ones you are working are higher priority than anything fun. I disagree on both counts. First, finding time (even 30 minutes a week) to work on a fulfilling project will help keep you fresh and happier when you are working on the rest of your piles of dung. Second, taking on an extra project that you enjoy and find satisfying will help you continue to grow professionally. Think of it as a long-term investment in your career. Maybe it’s not something your supervisor is demanding this instant, but it will likely come in handy later.

    Here are steps for finding that next great project.

    1. Make a list of projects or tasks that you really enjoyed… the ones that you got carried away with, and time just flew by. For me, I love reading new articles, so a lot of my recent favorite projects involve searching through databases for obscure papers (see graphic). I also love data analysis, so I’ll write that down. Hopefully jotting down this list will start to get your blood flowing. Just like in couples’ therapy… one of the first questions we like to ask is, “How did you fall in love?”
    2. Spend 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas. These can be based on your answers to step one, or maybe completely novel. What do you want to share with the world?
    3. Schedule 30 minutes to write an outline or a task list for one of the ideas. You don’t need to spend an entire day. Just start with 30 minutes. Think of it as a first date. Repeat.

    Let me know if this process works for you, or what else you’d add. Now go enjoy the honeymoon period!

  • 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?

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