Monthly Archives: February 2013

Is your writing flabby or fit?

I tried out the WritersDiet Test . Here are my results…
My overall score : Fit and trim (whish I could say the same about myself)

verbs Fit and trim
nouns Lean
prepositions Fit and trim
adjectives/adverbs Lean
it, this, that, there Lean

No improvements needed

Your writing sample contains relatively low percentages of be-verbs, abstract nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs, and waste words (it, this, that, there). To continue producing energetic prose, follow the WritersDiet principles below.

Key principles

Verbal verve
Limit be-verbs (is, was, are, were, be, been) to no more than a few per paragraph. Favor strong, specific, robust action verbs (scrutinize, dissect, capture) over weak, vague, lazy ones (have, do, show). Steer clear of passive verb constructions (it has been demonstrated) except when used for
stylistic effect.
Noun density
Anchor abstract ideas in concrete language and illustrate theoretical concepts using real-life examples. (Show, don’t just tell!) Avoid overdependence on nominalizations: long, important-sounding nouns formed from verbs or adjectives (overdependence, nominalizations, pretentiousness).
Prepositional podge
Avoid long strings of prepositional phrases, especially when they drive nouns and verbs apart (“The principle of keeping nouns and verbs as close to each other as possible for the benefit of readers has many benefits”).
Employ adjectives and adverbs only when they contribute new information to a sentence; get your nouns and verbs to do most of your descriptive work.
Waste words: it, this, that, there
Employ it and this only when you can state exactly what noun each word refers to; avoid using that more than once in a single sentence or three times in a paragraph, except in parallel constructions; and beware of sweeping generalizations that begin with There.
Important: The WritersDiet Test offers an automated diagnosis, not a subtle stylistic analysis or a prescriptive personal judgment. For best results, use the test together with The Writer’s Diet (Sword 2007), which discusses stylistic nuances and exceptions that the WritersDiet Test cannot address.

Text excerpted from H. Sword (2007) The Writer’s Diet Pearson Education NZ.


The painless PhD, complete module 1 now available

See on Scoop.itacademic tools

The complete module 1 of the Painless PhD course is now available, covering the basic principles you need to succeed in your PhD, including; What is a PhD f

See on

How to write a theory essay

The editorial of the latest communication gives great recommendations on writing theoretical papers. I think they can apply to any field of social science. Here is the essential to remember when writing a theory essay

Step 1 : Making a case. explain why you think more theorizing is needed.
Step 2 : Statement of purpose. what are you going and what are you not going to talk about.
Step 3: The utility of the paper. Address a problem in your field
Step 4: An analytical and critical lit review.  Engage the literatures relevant in your field.
Step 5: Making a contribution. It needs to be something new
Step 6: Make a compelling argument. Polish the rhetoric
Step 7: Back up the argument. Incorporate empirical evidence
Step 8: Finish with a bang. Show the relevance of your proposal and its limitation.

And here is the author checklist.

Writing for Communication Theory: a checklist

  1. Is the need for a theory intervention justified?
  2. Does the article address a communication problem?
  3. Are objectives and limits clearly stated?
  4. Does the article engage the relevant communication literatures?
  5. Does the literature review identify meaningful points of departure?
  6. Are the ideas advanced in the article actually new?
  7. Does the article clearly spell out its own original theory contribution?
  8. Are relevant terms and concepts explained?
  9. Does the article have a clear line of argument?
  10. Does the article advance its ideas vis-à-vis other relevant positions?
  11. Can any material that does not contribute to the flow of the argument be eliminated?
  12. Does the article use an accessible and comprehensible language?
  13. If empirical work is used, does the article establish a clear link between theory and evidence?
  14. Does the article discuss the larger implications of the new theory?
  15. Is the proposed theory intervention’s relevance compellingly demonstrated?
  16. Does the article address potential limitations?

Hanitzsch, T. (2013), Writing for Communication Theory. Communication Theory, 23: 1–9. doi: 10.1111/comt.12004

how to survive transcription

Some few tips and ideas to survive the transcription of interviews. All those step-up came little by little over time. Some I wish I used at the beginning of transcribing.

Hot keys for fast typing

Express scribe not only is free but it can be customized.

First you need to enable system-wide hot-keys (in the options). I step up to make it easy to reach while typing.

F1 : rewind

F2 : play

F3 : stop

F4 : fast forward

F9 : Play fast speed

F10 : Play slow speed

F11 : Play real speed

Track progress…minute by minute

 transcription 1

This is part of being organised. I am just too lazy to waste time looking for stuff or thinking about what is the next thing to be done. There are plenty of project management, task management, to do list out there. I use exclusively Task merlin for my PhD ( I will not go into how many apps I tried. A good way to find one that will fit your need try and use their “help with software”

Take note while transcribing


For this I use Onenote. docked OneNote window on the side of the screen while working in Word. I put ideas, images, definitions, links, questions. This gives a head start for data analysis. I imported all my transcription note in Nvivo as part of my memos. (

Since I typed a couple of words over and over, I used  a text expander for windows. The abbreviation is replaced immediately after it is typed. This help protect my sanity. Also, it works in any software, so I use it in Nvivo as well.