The Stages of Writing an Academic Paper

also known as: The main source of procrastination for grad students


This week has been pretty chill in the real (outside grad school) world so I don’t have a ton of pictures to show. Instead I’ll talk about writing an academic paper ya know, since I’m procrastinating on writing an academic paper.


Stage 1:

Image result for joy

Happy in all colors!!!

No really, you’re pretty excited that you finally have enough “good” data to write a paper! Congratulations! You’re super stoked about getting your name out there and you dream of all the fame and glory that comes with the most revolutionary paper that’s highlighted in Nature or Science.

Stage 2:

I have to make how many graphs?/What does this even mean?/Whose idea was this?

This is the stage where you actually start trying to make sense of all the data you meticulously recorded over a period of weeks/months/years. 9/10 times you wonder what possessed you to record the geometry of a specimen when you actually needed the weight of it, and you didn’t record the weight so now you have to go back and do that so your data can make sense.

Rinse and repeat for a while.

Stage 3:

Writing time! It’s time to put words on paper! So exciting!

but not really

Just about every academic paper (STEM related) follows the following general format:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Future Work

While this seems very simple what this actually means is:

  • Summarize 4 months years of work in 250 words (editors laugh maliciously)
  • Lit review! Where you talk about what everyone else has done that’s basically the same thing you did and they already wrote about it and you ‘read’ 40 papers that are cited. Then you go into how your way is better and different from all those others.
  • What did you do and how did you do it? <– This is typically the easiest part of the paper to write
  • GRAPHS, PICTURES, DATA but you can’t explain it yet. Gotta build some suspense by showing everyone your results while not saying what it means
  • Let’s talk about what what is on my graphs. Suspense ends here. This is where your work blows everyone out of the water in some mind-boggling revelation that your data clearly displays.
  • This is what I did, and because x, y, and z effed up, I’m going to pretend that fixing those issues will be my future work.

Basically, if you try to write this in any sensible order, you will be miserable.

This is also the stage where you put off writing the actual paper for as. long. as. possible. while the paper haunts you in your dreams.

Step 4:

You finally finish writing your first draft and send it to your PI and he/she hates it. You go home defeated.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you and your PI are happy with the paper and all the edits you have made.

Step 5:

Submit it to a journal!! You are confident that everyone will love your paper and that there are absolutely no holes in your logic and you’ve covered every possible scenario to test your hypothesis.

<- Side note: at this point in the process, your paper is sent to 3-4 people in your field for them to read and review->

Step 6:

You have been judged. And deemed unworthy.

Reviewer 1: “Looks great! The data clearly supports the hypothesis and the explanation makes sense.” OK to publish

-We love reviewer 1 and will typically address every comment they make

Reviewer 2: “Not a huge fan of this one outlying data point, could you make it go away? Other than that loved it!” OK to publish

-See reviewer 1

Reviewer 3: “This is the worst paper I have ever read. Seriously, who let these idiots do research anyways?!? Everything needs to be re-tested and you also need to do these additional 30 tests to even start to prove your hypothesis” OK to burn in hell

-This reviewer can suck it. Clearly they missed the entire point of the paper and probably didn’t even read it! All of your comments shall be ignored/we shall come up with some kick ass comebacks to all your hate.

Step 7:

Follow up with your edits and repeat steps 3 and 4 until you and the PI are happy with the paper. Resubmit paper to journal

Step 8:

WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congrats your paper will now be published and fame and fortune shall be yours! Your research has changed the world!*

*This strongly depends on the impact factor (how many people even read this sh*t)  of your journal. The higher the impact factor, the more important you are.

Once you have finished celebrating your acceptance, you begin planning what you should do for your next paper cause any grad program worth it’s clout will not give you a PhD having published only 1 paper.




Sometimes I Do Stupid Sh*t


We’re having a lazy Sunday morning over here (the best) after a pretty full week of everything.

Inda and Loony and Indy and  Luna and I  went out to the greenway back by the old Wench house on a rather gray day so the dogs could get out some energy.


Pretty sure this is what Pooh and Piglet would look like if they were dogs!

It was pretty eventful since Luna, who HATES water, tried to follow Indy across a creek and got herself stuck.  Rather than helping her, which is what kind and normal people would do, I sat there, laughed and took a short video of her trials.

Don’t worry, she figured it out and is safe and sound and was only a little traumatized from the water.

I also hit up the library for some quality people watching paper writing time. Also I needed to try out some of the other kooky chairs. Priorities y’all .


Then, Steve and I decided to go work out. Smart idea right?? Wrong.

Since it’s been a while since we’ve visited the gym, we both tried to make up for lost time by working out extra hard. Bad idea.

I ran so hard I gave myself heartburn and other gastric issues. Apparently 9mph is pretty fast?? Steve overdid it on the leg press and strained his knee a bit. I was going to do a bit of strength training after the run but couldn’t function/breathe so I went and sat in the sauna until I could walk around without dying.


This is my “Oops WTF did I just do” face.

We grabbed some beers with Matt and Lisa decided to not move again for the rest of the night.

How was your weekend festivities?

What do you mean it’s September??

I mean really?!? There is absolutely no way it can be September already right?

September means….

Back to school

The start of pumpkin spice everything!! (how did this become a thing?)

And my fall half marathon/full marathon training starts again

I’m getting ready to run the USA San Diego Invitational Half Marathon (they really need to shorten that name) coming up in November. And, as seen above, I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half Marathon training plan, free training plans FTW!

I started up yesterday with a treadmill sesh at early o’clock in the morning for 3 easy miles (target pace 9:00 min/mile). Luckily I had some frog friends to keep me company




They are super teeny frogs in the top left window pane and the one right below that, I have named them Fiona and Fred

I finished up in 27:43 for a 9:14 min/mile pace which wasn’t too bad considering how little I’ve run and how sleepy I was!

Anyways, Steve is getting better every day and Luna is getting bigger every day! I swear she could fit in my hand last week…


Although Steve is making a lot of progress we still have some rough days (this was from a few weeks ago when we made yet another trip to urgent care, it’s a really awesome place for a date)


Look familiar??


Hopefully he’ll feel well enough to help me drive to Alabama for Labor Day fun this weekend.

I gotta go work on homework while drinking a pumpkin spice latte now…Cheers!

The Start of Something New

Hi peeps!

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about anything crazy here, just the start of the new semester. Since the summer is officially over (at least here in NC) I figure it’s about time to get on a semi regular posting schedule again. Ya know, in addition to organizing everything else and setting up for the upcoming year

So. Let’s see.

Last week I joined the ASSIST Center at Sourcing at MAGIC (not an actual magic show as in two sorcerers battling it out but a textiles and fashion expo) in Las Vegas!

Our research was being highlighted as the latest in wearable technology so we were front and center of the thing! Here’s a picture of me, taken with a potato, wearing our EKG shirt at a corner of our booth. I may look less than thrilled as this was the last day of the expo and we had just seen……




Insert girly freak out here


It was everything my 10 yr old self could have asked for and then some! I didn’t have much of a voice the day after due to all the loud singing and such 🙂

We also made a point to drink some obscene slushies every night (can you tell I’m really good at taking pictures with my potato??)


Which eventually led to decisions like this….


Apparently balloon hats are rather suspicious to airport security, although FYI they will let you on a plane with them.

Steve had a great time trying to herd two dogs (the puppy is pretty high energy) with a bad knee, but I’ll let him tell you about that experience.


Classes are back in action (I’m taking one class this semester) and it’s weird having to be responsible and make good decisions again…i.e. my half marathon training starts this week…..after not working out for….2 months??….it’s gonna be awesome…..

I’ll be back soon with more!

Friday Dance Time

It’s Friday…Friday…gotta get down on Friday (sings to self cause I’m a nerd like that)

Please tell me you guys have some awesome plans for the weekend, because my plans are unpacking and cleaning…ugh. Need to live vicariously through other people this weekend.

In random news, have you ever seen a pineapple plant?


Now you have! The weird part about this is that it is inside the Textiles Engineering building. Pineapple<–>textiles<–>confused Amanda?? Note to everyone in this building though, I TOTALLY CALL THAT PINEAPPLE WHEN IT’S RIPE ENOUGH TO EAT

Workout world wise (yes I’m smiling gleefully at that alliteration) I did a quick 35 min treadmill sesh because I don’t enjoy feeling like death and drowning in sweat while I run. At least my view isn’t bad


I threw some intervals in there while rocking out to the newest Fall Out Boy album (fast pace was a 7:30 min/mile or 8mph and slow was about a 9 min/mile) and got in 3.8 miles


Afterwards, because our gym has a ballet bar and I insist on using it and because stretching is important, I stretched it out in our aerobics room!


Pointed feet are important even if you’re not a ballerina any more 🙂

I’m off to chase down some lunch….

Have a happy Friday!