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When and how are papers written?

1 July 2012

Derek Thomson

Now that the teaching period is largely over for the moment, thoughts turn to getting academic work in press.  Surely now that the teaching workload is currently low, the majority of my time should be focused on paper outputs, shouldn’t it?  Well, let’s see.

Starting this (Sunday) afternoon, I’ve begun tracking what I’m doing related to my current paper in my Twitter feed (links are on the right of this page).  This is a paper of which a draft already exists.  It has been seen by the co-authors (some months ago) and now I’m reworking it in light of their comments.  So I’m not even starting from scratch.  Finishing by Friday shouldn’t be a problem, then?  Who knows.

One thing does seem abundantly clear: papers never seem to be written in the office.  They – at least with me – seem to emerge out of the twilight and dawn.  But perhaps I am not alone in this.  With THES recently confirming an average academic working week of 60 hours, and our TRAC surveys including evenings and weekends (and evenings on weekends), everyone is well aware that the 9-5 office week doesn’t exist for academics.  But we’ve always known that.  It comes with the territory.

So, just when and how are papers written?  We should get an idea in one selected (but typical – for me at least) case over the coming days.

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