Advice from Associate Professor Birgit Muskat

Birgit Muskat

Associate Professor Birgit Muskat 
Research School of Management

What is the best way to start writing and improve your writing skills?

The good news is, the more you write, the more enjoyable it gets. Of course, sometimes it is hard for every academic, regardless of Higher Degree Research candidate or Professor, to find the right ‘headspace’ to write. It is especially challenging when other urgent things might be on our minds, such as emails, marking, tutoring, teaching preparation, or any other commitments that may hinder us from getting started each day. 

Here are some of the good practices that help me get started, and improve my writing. 

I like goal setting. I.e. setting a goal to write one page, one paragraph, or a specific number of words each day. Imagine what it would look like if you set your goal to write 300 or 500 words each day. 

It helped me when I realised that there are different styles of writing. Previously, I edited a lot during conceptual writing, but it always disrupted my flow and thinking. Now, I avoid editing when undertaking this style of writing. 

For great papers, every sentence needs to be carefully crafted. This is the same with paragraphs. To improve the clarity of writing, it is so important to think about a good topic sentence. This first sentence tells the reader what the focus of the paragraph is. I like to call it the ‘umbrella’ sentence. 

Importantly, for me, I like to engage with like-minded people and collaborate in good teams. You could make it a habit to review papers for others and send your papers for friendly feedback too. To learn, support others, and accomplish research in a research team is such a privilege of our academic profession.  

Happy Writing!