life tales


24 June, 2016

I’m in the midst of writing the first part of my thesis at the moment. 

Which has pretty much equated to almost complete withdrawal from the world, endless hours scrolling through journal databases and eating a lot of oatmeal. It honestly sounds much worse than it actually is. 

As someone who loves learning and writing, I thrive on days in front of the computer turning the countless research journal articles into a flowing story. I love the challenge (no surprises there) of making academic writing palatable. Well written research can change perspectives, policies and public attitudes. It can alter the way in which you view the world. However, unfortunately most research is neither enjoyable nor overly understandable. It’s no wonder research is so often mistranslated and misrepresented in popular culture. This is a massive problem. Like Mark Twain said;

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

It wasn’t until I started to write more that I realised what a lost art writing is.Being able to write was something that I took for granted. As it happens, I might have overestimated the general population’s writing capacity. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no copy editor for the New Yorker. But here are some basic errors that drive me crazy.  

  1. Overcomplicated sentences. If you can break up a sentence that is starting to challenge the Nile in length, do it. Long sentences don’t make you sound smart. They make you sound confused. 
  2. Apostrophes. So many things about apostrophes (check this out).  
  3. Its/ It’s (its = possession, it’s = “it is” or “it has”). 
  4. Over and under use of commas. 
  5. Their, they’re & there / wear & where / hear & here/ too, to & two etc. (again, see here)
  6. A lot. It’s two words. 

Confession time. After a few days of solid writing, I must admit that some of these occasionally slip through as typos on the occasional first draft. That’s a usually a good indicator to me that it’s time to step away from the laptop and reenter the world.  Thankfully, I haven’t found myself at that stage yet… I think. Proof reading is yet to come. 

What are your writing pet peeves? I’d love for you to share in the comments below. 

For some great (and hilarious) grammar tips, visit The Oatmeal

And now back to my thesis. 

xx Liz 


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  • Reply Claire at My Pink & Green Life 24 June, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    So much yes! Next year for my senior paper for the biology major, I’m going to be spending lots and lots of time with the literature. I had to write a practice paper this year and the overcomplicated sentences point bothers me so much. Especially sentences that are a paragraph long… my eyes just kind of glaze over and I skip to the next paragraph ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Reply Travelling Table Tales 25 June, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Good luck with your paper! The joys of being a student. I do the same thing with long sentences. I just lose interest in what is being said. xx

  • Reply Ashlie 25 June, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    As lame as it sounds referencing is a pet peeve for me now. In my undergraduate degree it was probably the single most tedious thing to learn. But once you get to masters degree level it’s a fine art and there’s something a bit therapeutic and satisfying about getting it all laid out correctly.

    • Reply Travelling Table Tales 26 June, 2016 at 8:15 am

      I completely understand the referencing thing. Because my undergraduate degree was in psychology, I learnt to be extremely particular about APA referencing (they honestly mark you so harshly if you don’t follow it exactly!). I have only just started to use Endnote for my Masters this year, and it has honestly changed my life (I wish I was exaggerating). I cannot believe how much time and effort it saves! xx

  • Reply Ashlie 26 June, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I have one subject left of my criminology masters which is APA referencing as well, I wish I had gotten on the endnote bandwagon well before now! Good luck with your thesis!

  • Reply David | Spiced 27 June, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Great tips, Liz! I’ve been there sitting in front of the computer sifting through piles of academic journal articles…but it’s kinda fun! At the time, I didn’t love it. But now that I’m away from that world, I kinda miss it. It’s not like I’m going to go read some journal articles for fun or anything, but I do miss it! Enjoy the journey…and thanks for the grammar (NOT grammer) tips! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Travelling Table Tales 28 June, 2016 at 8:21 am

      It’s funny that you miss things that you didn’t really enjoy at the time afterwards. I can relate! Thank you and you are very welcome!

  • Reply Donna 28 June, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Good advice and an added benefit is for your fellow graduate students who are writing, writing & writing.๐Ÿ˜
    Good luck!

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