Writing tips


Short tips on all aspects of writing. Share with your friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions I receive from Korean and International graduate students in my workshops and classes.

Q. I am worried about criticizing the research of well-known professors in my field. How can I do this politely?

A. First, consider your audience. There is a tendency for direct criticism of previous research in articles written in North America in particular, but a tendency toward reluctance to directly criticize in many Asian countries. See the guide to science and engineering writing Chap. 6 on introduction writing for specific grammar and style advice on this important topic.

Q. How can I use a source that I did not read and found in another source in my own writing?

In science writing, you should always go back to the original source. In social sciences, it can be difficult to get access to online articles and especially books. I have this problem every week.

Try to minimize the number of references you use without consulting the original book. Perhaps only once per paper. However, if you have no choice, then if you are using APA style you can cite the original like this:


Q. Do I need a second comma in a list of three items or not in research writing?

You don’t need one in general writing, but it is always a good idea as in some cases there may be confusion. However, you must be consistent throughout the paper, a basic rule of any style. In addition, most academic styleguides require it.