Presentation on theme: "Writing your chapters MMFRP 2011 San Miguel Tlacotepec, Oaxaca Prof. David FitzGerald."— Presentation transcript:
Writing your chapters MMFRP 2011 San Miguel Tlacotepec, Oaxaca Prof. David FitzGerald
Writing demands Professional-level writing Rewriting Collaborative. 30 people/ 2 countries/ 2 languages/ 3 editors. Respect deadlines to the hour!
Winter writing Field progress report > 5-page detailed outline & narrative summary – Argument – Sources of evidence (quantitative or qualitative) – How do you address counterarguments – Engagement with literature
Spring writing Produce approx. 6 drafts. Chapter group meetings with DK and DSF every Thursday to discuss drafts in tracked changes mode. Additional weekly chapter group meetings with DK/GF. Final version should be perfect before the MMFRP 2011 dispersion in June!
General writing advice Focus on one central claim in your book. Don’t make this your magnum opus on the human condition. Don’t be sentimental. – Cut pet ideas and material that doesn’t advance your chapter’s central claim. – Engage in, and gracefully accept, constructive criticism. Keep a “fragments” file with material that you may include, but which might end up on the cutting room floor If you want to say more about the topic, write another thesis or article.
Structure of book Begin with an epigraph that: captures essence of chapter, sparks interest, humanizes story. Introduction. On first page, what will chapter say? Why should the reader care? Roadmap to chapter. Brief lit review: what have other scholars said about this topic that this chapter will 1) concur with, 2) show to be false, 3) provide nuance to, 4) expand to a new field setting Evidence: A description of what we found. Explanation for what we found can be woven into description, or follow in a discussion. Chapter MUST have good description. All will include some descriptive stats (absolute number of XXs, average number of Ys.) All will make comparisons of groups (migrants vs nonmigrants, men vs women, kids with parents at home vs kids with absent parents, etc…) Some chapters will be able to make stronger causal arguments than others. The latter will typically rely on a multivariate regression as the core of the evidence. Some chapters will rely on qualitative evidence more than others. Unless you are doing a multivariate regression as the core, it typically works best to integrate qualitative and quantitative evidence at the same time.
More structure Conclusion. Must summarize findings. Additionally, may point out limitations of study that could be addressed by future research, suggest policy recommendations. Don’t need methodology section (this is in intro). Don’t need to introduce Tlaco (this is in intro). Reference findings of other chapters as needed. Chapters need to be consistent with each other. (editors will help with this) The maximum length should be 6000 to 8000 words. Drafts can be a bit longer, and then cut.
More writing instructions Include the full chapter title and full names of all chapter authors. Number your pages. In your drafts, use [XXXX] or [ADD SECTION ON XXXX] in brackets to signal areas that you are going to fix in subsequent drafts Use pseudonyms. Identify the interviewees in your quotes with a few key descriptive details. (E.g. “Marta, a 25-year-old teacher who migrated to Vista with her family when she was sixteen...”
Style Plan to spend many hours writing and rewriting the draft, massaging the prose, making it “sing!” (See Strunk and White) Clarity and precision before beauty. Use clear, short, declarative sentences. Avoid passive voice. Avoid wordiness. 1 authorial voice in each chapter. (leave time for someone to do this.) When editing, periodically work from a hard copy (see mistakes better, outline paper, get better sense of whole.)
Style specifics In the numbers you report in the text and graphs, do not include more than 1 digit to the right of the decimal point. (E.g. do NOT say “23.41 percent of the population owned a cow.” That’s false precision.) Write out "United States" as a noun but "U.S." as an adjective. (E.g. "in the United States" vs. "U.S.-based"). Write out "percent" rather than use "%," unless you are comparing many percentages in a short space.
References and Notes Include a complete list of references at the end of your chapter. It should include a bibliographic entry for every work cited in the text but nothing beyond that. That is, this is not a list of everything you consulted, only what appears in the text. All citations should be complete, following last year’s book for style [e.g. (Smith 2007, 207; Brown 2010, 345)]. Put the original Spanish language quotes in endnotes. These will be used for the Spanish edition of the book. Put material that you want to actually appear in the book in footnotes.
Figures and Tables Figures and tables should be included and properly formatted. “Figures” are graphs, photos, or pictures. “Tables” are just made of numbers. Graphs and tables should have enough information so that they can be interpreted without reading the text. Use last year’s book as an example. Include a separate file with all of the original Excel graphs and data used to make those graphs All graphs and tables should have these characteristics: – Black and white only – 10 point Calabri font – Label X and Y axis (on graphs) – Complete title – If the source is other than the MMFRP 2011, cite the source at the bottom in this format. “Source: Smith 2007” – The N (# of cases used in analysis)
Numbering figures and tables The figures and table should be numbered. Every figure or table begins with the chapter number followed by a period and the number for that figure or table in the order it appears in the chapter. Figures and tables have a separate numbering sequence. E.g. In chapter 2, you might find Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2, Table 2.1, Figure 2.3, Table 2.2,.... Use this order for numbering your chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Border 3. Interior 4. Politics 5. Cross-Border 6. Education 7. Health 8. Ecology