I have a bit of a technical question about constructing narrative while writing as a historian (I guess it also applies to other humanities).

This never really occurred to me as an issue during undergrad and graduate school while writing my thesis, but I have noticed now as I revise my thesis that at times I write sentences that contain both the factual events contained in the primary source I cite in the footnote at the end of the sentence and my interpretation of the source I cite.

For example, if I describe the relation between Event A and Event B, I might first describe the general context. Then follows Sentence A that describes Event A and cites Source A describing Event A. Then follows Sentence B that says:

In reaction (to Event A), Event B happened⁴.

Where Footnote 4 describes Event B.

My question about this example is about the two words “in reaction”. The source I cite at the end of Sentence B does only describe Event B. I derive the connection between the two events and that Event B is a reaction to Event A from the general context. Thus “in reaction” is my interpretation of the causality between the two events.

Now if one is really squeamish I guess one could say that by not separating “in reaction” from Sentence B I mix interpretation and factual evidence and some readers could be misled that the source I cite at the end of Sentence B also includes that Event B happened in reaction to Event A.

The same kind of situation seems to happen at times in my writing when I have a sentence that is built like this:

[Interpretation], [relative clause with factual evidence] [Footnote with evidence for events/facts in relative clause].

My question is whether this style of writing is acceptable at all? It certainly does not occur often in my writing, but it does at times. No one who has read my writing really has ever said anything about this. Although it is hard to check the writing of other historians with regards to this question, as I do not have the sources to check in most cases, I have noticed that other historians do this kind of mixing at times as well (some even seem to simply cite sources at the end of paragraphs that clearly contain both factual statements and interpretation). I also wonder what having to interrupt sentences to clearly separate interpretation and facts all the time would do to the flow of the narrative.

Still this is a concern now, and I would like to know how to approach this dilemma. Is there a convention or best practice? Is mixing interpretation and evidence acceptable, is it sloppy writing or is it completely unacceptable?

Crosspost on Reddit

I have a bit of a technical question about constructing narrative while writing as a historian (I guess it also applies to other humanities).

This never really occurred to me as an issue during undergrad and graduate school while writing my thesis, but I have noticed now as I revise my thesis that at times I write sentences that contain both the factual events contained in the primary source I cite in the footnote at the end of the sentence AND my interpretation of the source I cite.

For example, if I describe the relation between Event A and Event B, I might first describe the general context. Then follows Sentence A that describes event A and cites source A describing event A. Then follows sentence B that says: ‘In reaction (to event A), Event B happened. That is followed by a footnote that describes Event B.

My question about this example is about the two words “In Reaction.” The source I cite at the end of sentence B does only describe event B. I derive the connection between the two events and that event B is a reaction to event A from the general context. Thus “In Reaction” is my interpretation of the causality between the two events.

Now if one is really squeamish I guess one could say that by not separating “In Reaction” from Sentence B I mix interpretation and factual evidence and some readers could be misled that the source I cite at the end of sentence B also includes that event B happened in reaction to event A.

The same kind of situation seems to happen at times in my writing when I have a sentence that is built like this: [Interpretation], [relative clause with factual evidence] [Footnote with evidence for events/facts in relative clause].

My question is whether this style of writing is acceptable at all? It certainly does not occur often in my writing, but it does at times. No one who has read my writing really has ever said anything about this. Although it is hard to check the writing of other historians with regards to this question, as I do not have the sources to check in most cases, I have noticed that other historians do this kind of “mixing” at times as well (Some even seem to simply cite sources at the end of paragraphs that clearly contain both factual statements and interpretation). I also wonder what having to interrupt sentences to clearly separate interpretation and facts 100% all the time would do to the flow of the narrative.

Still this is a concern now and I would like to know what others think. Is this acceptable and I overthink things, is it sloppy writing or is it completely unacceptable?

Thanks for the help (and for reading this long post).

[Crosspost from r/AskAcademia: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskAcademia/comments/8ay0db/question_for_historiansfootnotes_and/]

I am writing a computing conference paper, it’s for a high quality conference, and my friend and I have a mini dispute. The loser pays for drinks, so no pressure!

Which of the following is better/appropriate/there is no difference?

The loser will: 1. get laughed at, 2. pay for drinks and 3. have to run outside naked.

vs

The loser will: 1) get laughed at, 2) pay for drinks and 3) have to run outside naked.

In all seriousness though, is one more formal/acceptable than the other?

Also, I think I remember that maybe a “;” should be used instead of the “,”.

Thanks for reading!

I am an electrical engineering PhD student, from an African country and the official language here is French, but since most of journals and revues are in English, I always struggle to write my papers and most of them are reject because of the language. I tried to study English in local schools but the result is not so good.

Until a friend of mine suggested that i should try to studying English in an English-speaking country (Preferably the US or the UK), because the interaction with people will also count as practice, So i am looking for a school or training which is specialized in teaching PhD student how to write a scientific paper ? Does a such thing exists in the USA/UK, if yes please point me to them.

I am an electrical engineering PhD student, from an African country and the official language here is French, but since most of journals and revues are in English, I always struggle to write my papers and most of them are reject because of the language. I tried to study English in local schools but the result is not so good.

Until a friend of mine suggested that i should try to studying English in an Anglo-Saxon country (Preferably the US or the UK), because the interaction with people will also count as practice, So i am looking for a school or training which is specialized in teaching PhD student how to write a scientific paper ? Does a such thing exists in the USA/UK, if yes please point me to them.

I am planning to write a journal article about real-world algorithms solving a practical problem for an IEEE Computer Society transactions journal. The section outline currently is as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Related work
  3. Problem definition
  4. Simple algorithm for a simpler problem that cannot be scaled up to the real problem but is very interesting from mathematical viewpoint
  5. Several mathematical observations from the simple algorithm
  6. Simple algorithm that can be scaled up
  7. Good, slow algorithm, as used in literature
  8. Implementation details of our version of the good, slow algorithm
  9. Another good algorithm from the literature and some improvements to it
  10. Even more improved version of the Section 9 algorithm
  11. How to deploy Section 6 algorithm for worldwide use
  12. How to deploy Section 9/10 algorithm for worldwide use
  13. Results and discussion
  14. Discussion about one important point that could be claimed to invalidate the results but in reality doesn’t
  15. Conclusions

So, there are 15 sections. In IEEE double column style, the text is now 7 pages + references + biographies, but I expect it to grow to 10 pages + references + biographies because some of the sections are empty currently, their text not being written yet.

Now, my question is: do I have too many sections? I have intentionally kept the sections concise, not being too wordy. So they explain things just once and expect the reader to understand. So, the paper is not overly long.

The paper is quite conclusive because it explores 4 different algorithms and manages to optimize one of them to be fast enough to be used in practice. I don’t want to remove any content because it would make the paper less conclusive. The results are important as well: the best algorithm as optimized by me runs over 60 000 times faster than equivalent prior art algorithm in the Section 3 problem.

I don’t see any simple yet good reorganization into subsections: for example, Section 5 really has to be immediately after Section 4 so that the reader doesn’t forget the important things from Section 4 when reading Section 5. So I can’t combine Sections 4-10 into subsections of an algorithm section, because in the middle there would be a mathematical observation section unrelated to algorithms. In theory, Sections 11-12 could be combined to be subsections of a deployment section, but that would save just one section number. Another way to save one section number would be to do this:

  1. Results and discussion
    • 13.1. Results
    • 13.2. Discussion
    • 13.3. Discussion about one important point that could be claimed to invalidate the results but in reality doesn’t

After really hard work, I came up with the following barely acceptable outline having less sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Related work
  3. Problem definition
  4. Simple algorithm for a simpler problem that cannot be scaled up to the real problem but is very interesting from mathematical viewpoint
  5. Several mathematical observations from the simple algorithm
  6. Scalable algorithms
    • 6.1. Simple algorithm that can be scaled up
    • 6.2. Good, slow algorithm, as used in literature
    • 6.3. Implementation details of our version of the good, slow algorithm
    • 6.4. Another good algorithm from the literature and some improvements to it
    • 6.5. Even more improved version of the Section 6.4 algorithm
  7. Deployment
    • 7.1. How to deploy Section 6.1 algorithm for worldwide use
    • 7.2. How to deploy Section 6.4/6.5 algorithm for worldwide use
  8. Results and discussion
    • 8.1. Results
    • 8.2. Discussion
    • 8.3. Discussion about one important point that could be claimed to invalidate the results but in reality doesn’t
  9. Conclusions

Is this 9 section outline better?

Can I use acronyms and abbreviations in the conclusion of a scientific paper or should I avoid them?

Even though the main idea of acronyms and abbreviations is to avoid repetition, my impression is that acronyms should be avoided as a conclusion should be somehow self explanatory.

Is there a consensus on something like that?

Lets say I have 3 different methods. I am trying to find the best technique to represent similarities (or differences) among these methods.

One way I thought of is to create a table and create my own correlation methodology (e.g., high, medium, and low). However, I am not sure if this is the best way to do it.

enter image description here

Here is the corresponding LaTeX code I created (just in case):

documentclass{article}
usepackage{booktabs}

begin{document}
begin{table}
    centering
begin{tabular}{llll}
    toprule
             & Method 1 & Method 2 & Method 3 \
    Method 1 & High & High  & Low \
    Method 2 & Medium & Low & Low \
    Method 3 & Low & Low  & Low \
    bottomrule
end{tabular}
caption{Level of correlation among different methods}
end{table}
end{document}

I decided to use first person (“we”) and active voice as the primary style of writing my dissertation in the domain of Computer Science. I have read some discussions about this topic and the people generally agree that we have to be consistent.

Nonetheless I also noticed that are some instances in which the passive voice seems to be a better fit, like when I want to emphasize the action rather than the actor or when I don’t know who is the actor (or it doesn’t matter).

It seems hard to me in those situations to force the use of active voice (maybe because English is not my first language). To what degree should I force the use of active voice? Are there some guidelines regarding this topic?