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The Academic Writing

Process: From Notes to

Single, P. (2010). Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined
Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text. U.S: Stylus.
PPT prepared by K.Walper
1. The Single System
2. Choosing a Topic & Adviser
3. Interactive Reading & Note-
4. Citeable Notes
5. Focusing on Focus Statements
6. Transforming Focus
Statements into a One-Page
7. Long Outline with References
8. Developing a Regular Writing
9. Overcoming Writers Block
10. The Role of Revision

A general overview of The Single System (2010)
Carry out Interactive reading and always take interactive
notes (ch. 3)
Condense your interactive notes into citeable notes (ch.
Develop a focus statement (ch. 5)
Work on a one-page outline (ch. 6), then on a long
outline with references (ch. 7)
Make a habit: work in regular moderate sessions (ch. 8)
Edit your work (ch. 10)
Enter and contribute to conversation in your own voice.

Always take notes when reading a paper; if not, dont
bother. (Inter)active reading allows you to take efficient
The goal of reading in academe is not only to learn from
it, but to be able to use it as building blocks in your
own work.
Through your notes you will be able to think critically
about the material you are reading.
Collect notes, not articles or books!
*Skim & Scan titles, subtitle headings, table of contents,
etc. so that your reading is more focused.
Use a pencil to underline the important parts of the
articles or books and to write notes in the margins.
Read through the table of contents or the titles and
Skim through the prologue or introduction to get an
overview of the reasons for this piece of work
While reading, ask yourself questions about the reading to
engage actively.

**Notice reporting verbs used in your field. You will use
them later!

Create a unique identifier that represents each interactive
note (author, year, title). The complete reference.
Write a succinct statement of the conclusions or
findings as the second part of the citeable note to help
you remember what the piece of work was about without
having to read the whole thing again.
Copy useful quotations word for word. Do not forget the
page or paragraph number!
Write comments for the quotations that you may end up
using in your dissertation.
Organise your Citeable Notes
Citeable Notes: Keeping a Word File

Organising Citeable Notes

Focus Statements are 1-4 sentences that summarise and
foreshadow the essence of that section.
They include the thesis statement, clear and compelling
information about the content.
You can include:
RQ Thesis St.
Methodology Variables
Sample, Subjects Constructs
You can use the first person for this section and use active
They must grab the attention of the reader and, of course,
yourself since these are the essence of your dissertation.

To get started
What is your dissertation/this chapter about?
Why are you conducting this research?
Why should anyone care about this subject? (ask this in a very
supportive tone!) Can you tell me the big point?
What is the big picture, the context or the conditions that make it
important for you to pursue the topic?
When you are finished with the project, what is the one point that you
want to leave with your readers? Which three subpoints do you want to
convey to your audience?
(If appropriate) Which theories or methodologies will you use to
research this topic?
What data, sources, texts or objects are most appropriate for you to work
with? Do you have access to them? Do you need to collect them?
What will be the contribution or implications of your dissertation?
How does this topic align with your professional mission and career

From a consumer of knowledge, you
become a contributor of knowledge.

One page outline = one page overview of the entire
Its dynamic and facilitates the writing process.

It begins with a
working title (it will help you visualise your work ready),
your name,
date (very important to keep diff. versions in order!)
focus statement,
chapter headings
bulleted list of topics to be discussed

(1) Gather info:
- Pose a series of questions.
- Be creative
- Dont care about organisation
- Brainstorm

(2) Bring order:
- Identify the three most salient themes of the dissertation, these
will become the chapters.
- Write the theme of each chapter as a main heading and the
information included in that chapter as a bulleted list below the
main heading.
- Identify the big picture and the big point. The list of chapters
may not be the final one, but it will help you get organised.
- Then, under each theme, address what you already know about
it and what you dont know.
(3) Set goals:
- Think how many pages should be written for each chapter.
- Write it down. This will make the goals doable.

(4) Revise and Organise:
- Identify three sections under each chapter, revise focus
statements and write one for each new heading.
- Review your citeable notes and insert them in the appropriate
sections or chapters.
- Diagnose the organisation again and make sure that it makes
sense to you.
- Then, and only then, can you start writing prose.

*Use the table of contents to organise and update your table at
the end of each working session.
*Mark each chapter as you progress (motivation + clear

(1) Read your one-page outline
(2) Write a focus statement for each chapter (Heading 1)
(3) Write a list of topics that support your Focus Statement. These
become Heading 2
(4) Write a title and a focus statement for each section
(5) Write a list of topics, organise and write titles for subsections
(decide whether some things need to be moved around) (Heading
3) *From the long outline onwards, you continuously diagnose,
revise and rewrite.
(6) Transfer estimated page-length umbers from the one-page to the
long outline and estimate the page numbers for each section
(7) Decide how to introduce your topic
(8) Add your citeable notes. Read through your notes (which had been
grouped in themes) *Those that seem to not fit, pit them in a
miscellaneous section. You will notice that a lot of them overlap.
Transfer all of them and then organise.
(9) Then, revise your focus statements. You might want to improve or
reorganise things.

In Summary