ACADEMIC WRITING - MY WAY
Good morningeveryone!IamGergelyFarkas,a younglecturerfromthe Universityof Szeged.Thank
youfor choosingmypapertwice ina rowas one of the bestpapersof thisconference.TodayIhave a
journalslike Journal of Competitiveness,orjusttell astoryabout how didI gethere on thisstage.It
will be anhonestreviewaboutmyworks,tohelpyouwrite betterones.
In positive psychologyflowisamental state whenyou are so immersedinyouractivity,thatwhen
youare finished,youcannottell exactlywhatandhow happenedinthe process,butyouare sure
Do youknowthe feelingwhenyouwake upenergizedearlyinthe morning?Yougofor a few
kilometersof runon the beachand aftera hot showeranda deliciousbreakfastyouspendyourday
inthe library.There youworkonyour paperin a modernandelegantenvironmentorina hall filled
witholdbooksand paintingsof professorsfromthe pastof youruniversity.Youcanfindanybooksor
journal articlesinthe computersystemof the library,andall youhave to do isto thinkaboutnew
scientifictheoriesall daylong.At the endof the day,you go home toyour familyorfriendsandyou
justput aside the workuntil nextday.Doyou know whatI am talkingabout?You don’t?Me neither.
I can rememberafewmomentsof flow,butthe realityisfarfromthe mentionedformost scientists.
I couldtalkabout manythings,butI want to make thisspeechmemorable.There are somany
Can I make an academicwriting101 course in30 minutes?Ithinkeveryone canreadHow to write a
thesisfromUmbertoEco, or readadvicesof editorsonjournal websites.Probablyyoureadthem
already.Youcan work onmany fieldsof economics.Ihave differentpublicationswithstrong
Some of themwon a prize,some of themwenttothe drawer aftera short conference.Butyou
shouldknowone thing:whenyoustarta studyyou have to thinkaboutpublicationgoalsalso.There
isno way to finishsomethingasgoodasyou can, because yourtime islimited.Inwritingyoucan
alwaysaddto your text.Youcan write ashort summaryor a longtextbookaboutthe same thing.
Making a biggerventure inatopic isa riskythingbecause youneedmonthsforresearch,other
monthsfor analyze resultsandwrite the paper.Anditneedsevenmore time togetback the opinion
of reviewersandreacton themwithgoodquality.There isabig competitiontogetinhighvalued
journals,andthere isa pressure fromuniversitiestopublishmore andmore. Andthere are trends
and expectationsyoushouldkeepupwith:new topics,new statistical methods,new software for
analyzingdataand presentingresults.Yourtime islimited,soyoushouldsetrealisticgoalshow you
will contribute tothe knowledge of mankindwith apublicationwhileyoukeepyourjoborpassyour
exams.Icannot give youinstantanswersforyourlife.Youcan challenge yourselfwithhard
theoretical problems,commityourself tofindsolutionsforpractical problems.Itisupto you.But
anythingyoudo,lookfor publishingandpresentingopportunitiesbecause withoutreactions,and
criticsyou can go inthe wrong wayfor too long.How can you write the perfectpaper?Icannottell
the rules;I can tell storiesaboutmyexperience only.
ShouldIjust tell mysuccessstoryand pairit withsome quotestomotivate you?Thissentence from
Steve Jobsisveryappealingbutitisonlya wishful thinkingaboutmeaningof life.Iwill talkabout
these dotsandI want to believethere isahiddenpattern,a greaterentitywholooksafterme evenif
I have hard times.Butdo youheardthe story aboutthe scientistwhoworkedharddayandnightbut
no journal withimpactfactoracceptedhispapers?Neverever.No?Because nobodytellsthese
stories.Storiesaboutdotslike the onesSteveJobstalksabout,alwayshave ahappyending.Youcan
change the world;youcan affectthe life of people.If youare a scientistyoucanbe famouswithouta
goodlook,or talentinarts. If I make a greatmotivational speechaboutscientificwritingIcanchange
your viewpointforafewdays.But aftera day or two youwill face problems,andfacingthem
withouta quicksolutionisademandingtask.Ithinkall of youwant some goodadvice how to write
betterpapers,howtopublishmore thanthe personwhoissittingnexttoyou now.
There isan article fromJay Barneyabout firmresourcesandsustainedcompetitive advantage.Ithas
wantto be betterthanothersinqualityyoucan use these rules.
Make somethingvaluable. Last yearI presentedaverycomplex studywithadvancedstatistical
methods.Ithinkithas a value forfamilybusinessresearch.ThisyearIjusttranslatedashort, but
unique literaturereview.Ithasno strict methodology;itdoesnotstate new ideas.Itisvaluable
because itsummarizesarapidlychangingtopicfroma specificviewpoint.Andthisisinterestingfor
the audience.Probablyyouwill thinkabout everypaperof yoursas a highvalue thingbecause you
have manyhours of work init.But afteryou have the topicand before youstartto sketchyour
researchplanplease thinkaboutwhoandwhere will readaboutit.How will itbe valuable?
Be rare. I heardsuch complainsmanytimes:“Icannotadd any new resultstothisfield.”and
“Nobodyresearchedthistopic,Icannotwrite theoretical backgroundwithoutsources.”Bothmeans
youneedmore time to searchand readsources.You donot have to craft a new theoryor save the
worldineverypublication.Findanewcombinationof constructs,findanew methodtomake a
betterresearchforan oldtopic,or do somethingwhatwill be importantinthe future.Justkeepin
mindittakesa yearor two to publisha goodresearchand youhave to answerquestionsof readers
inthe future.Here isa riskbecause valuable topicsare usuallymore interestingforothers,sothe
competitioncanbe stronger.Sothinkaboutsome unique sellingpointof yourresearch.
What is imperfectlyimitable? Of course notyourresults.If theyare,youdo it wrong.Butyour
personal experience,yoursocial capital is.Keepconnectionwithpeersandprofessors.Askfor
reviews,discussyourideas.Iwill talkaboutmymentors,butIdon’t thinkyoucan or youshouldtake
the exactsame way. Theytransformedme intothe scientist Iamtoday,but I cannotbe objective
aboutthe successof thisproject.I thinkconferenceslike thisone are veryimportantforeveryone to
getunique experience whatyoucannotgetin yourhome environment.
The last one meansyou cannot substitute yourwritingskill withsomethingother.Youcansay you
can joina researchteamand do justa part of the job.That is gooduntil yougatherthe knowledge
and wisdomtomake yourown research.Justbe aware to do not getstuck,because a research
assistantisreplaceable.Youshouldcome upwithyourownhypothesizessoonerorlaterand getthe
positionof the firstauthor.The bigquestionishow toget intothat position.Iwill share mystory,but
I have some questionsforyou.There are now goodor bad answers.Please be honestand answer
quicklyevenif youcannotconnectitto the current topic.
Who likestoeatsausage? Please,putyourhandsup!Thank you.
Who likeskids? Please,putyourhandsup!Thankyou.
Who likesscience,toreadinterestingscientificpapers? Please,putyourhandsup!Thankyou.
If you answeredyesforanyof the questionsIsuggest,youshouldnotknow abouthow they are
reallymade.Because youcame here toknow more about itof course I will give yousome answers.
Do not be afraid,I will speakonlyaboutmakingscientificpapers,andnotthe othertwothings I
On thispicture Iam the DJ.There was 2003 whenmyfriendFerencPolyákandIdecidedwe will
make a difference.We will chase agoal not inside the boundariesof the departmentof psychologyat
the university,butwiththe resourcesof it.Aftersurvivingthe firsttwosemesterswe startedtowork
on our firstresearch.We got some helpfromexpertsoutside the university,andthe professorsat
leastdidnottry to stop us.
Dr. LászlóTóth is a formercolonel of the HungarianArmy,a formerambassador,andhe didmany
thingsformake the formerYugoslaviaabetterplace afterthe war.He usedhisnetworktoletus
make a researchabout motivationof soldiers,butnotbefore he trainedus.Itwasa bootcamp for
writing.Istartedwithshortletterstoofficialsforclearancesrequired forthe study.He pointedout
everysingle errorinthose things.Ingrammar,instyle,incontent.Imade half a dozenversionsfor
everypage until itwasgood enough.Now Idothe same withmyself andwithmystudents.As
journal editorsusuallysay:youcannotmake enoughproofreading.
In myfirstresearchthere were a bigsample,agreat numberof variables,andahuge responsibilityto
create somethingvaluable forthe army.Itwas our studentproject,butwe metmanyhighranking
officers.The resultsremainedpartiallyconfidential.The mostinterestingpartswentinthe drawer
because the resultswere notvaluableenoughforthe armyto use iton the longrun, butit wouldbe
valuable forspiesof otherarmies.We wonaFirst Prize of Regional Committee of HungarianScience
Academyin2005 and in2007 withparts of the study.Itwas an importantsteptoestablishmy
National Conference of ScientificStudents'Associationsisthe mostimportantcompetitionfor
universitystudentsinHungary.There are manyfieldsandsectionsbutanysmall prize meansyouare
inthe league of the bestinyourprofession.Here youcansee the headof the psychology
department,myfriend,andme onthe picture.We got a reviewerfromthe fieldof behavioral
economics.She didnotlike ourworkat all until I presentedthe resultsandexplainedeverydetailof
it to her.We came home withan emptyhandandI learnedthe lesson,thatIneedmore experience
inwritingif I wantto convince the readerswithoutmypersonal presence.
I wentback to the school andI wrote my masterthesisandpassedthe language examswhatwas
requiredforgetthe diploma.FinishingeverythingwasnotwithoutproblemsbutIusedmyfree time
to improve myskills.IdiddataanalysiswithSPSSandwrote resultssectionsforothers. ThiswayI
metmany people inotherfacultieswithdifferentresearchinterests.Thisbigpile ismypapersbefore
the applicationforthe doctoral school.
How I became aneconomicpsychologist?There wasagood opportunitytomake some moneywitha
small projectinthe departmentof economics.Aftersome successful cooperationGáborDávidKiss,
whois here withme now,invitedme tobe a thirdauthorin a publication.Andthatpaperwas
DOKBAT in2009. So if I lookat it thatway ittook me six yearsto write a better
Thiswas my firstdeskatthe Facultyof Economicsand BusinessAdministration.Thatcomputerwas
so slowthateven typingwasa pain.I switchedfora laptopandI startedto work onmy research
aboutextreme stressindecisions.Iworkedwithpolice officersandIparticipatedinexperiments
involvingguns,EEG,anda lot of unforgettable moments.Itwasa veryinterestingtopic.After2 years
I realizedIwill notgetenoughresultsinthe foreseeablefuture formydoctoral thesis.Now if Ilook
back I knowI couldpublishitbecause otherstudiesinthe lastfive yearscame tothe same conclusion
as I did.But itwas a deadend.
Here I have to say thanksfor mytwo mentors.Theybothinspire me toimprove myself.Most
importantlytheygive me the time andfreedomtofindmyownway.Theyalwayshelpedme whenI
askedthem, andtheyhave the patience towaituntil I write mynextpaper.Theyare both an
example forme howtowrite papers,butthisis the part youcannot copy.I suggestfindthe
importantpeople of yourfieldinyourcountryandmake connectionswiththem.
My topicisfamilybusinessnow.Asyoucan see onGoogle Street View myfatherisnota
consultingcompanyfounduswiththe ideatoworkwithfamilybusinesses.Fromthe academic
viewpointitwasunderratedinHungarywithjusta few publications.The FamilyBusinessReview,the
mostimportantjournal of the fieldwasaround20 yearsold,butin Hungarythere were onlyone
As youcan remembermotivation wasmytopicuntil mymasterthesis.SoI startedto explore family
and theymade a much betterpaperat the end.I wasunexperiencedasa mentor,andI did not
realize howgoodare theyinadvance.Theywonthe firstprize of the National Conference of
ScientificStudents'Associationsinthe fieldof economicsinthe sectionof management.Theyleftthe
academicfield afterdegree,buttheyinspiredme tolearnmore aboutthisfield.Theywere the proof
that thistopicis valuable,butrare inHungary.
I startedto attendconferencesabroad.FirstIwasin Exeter,England.MyEnglishwassobad in the
abstract theysentme in the postersection.The conference maintopicalsodidnotfitmy research.I
didnot wantto make the same mistake twice sonextyearIwentto Bordeaux,France fora family
businessconference.There Iwasina discussionsessionwhatmeansnoreal publicationinthe
proceedings.Butitwasa stepforward,and I meteditorsandfamousauthorsfromthe field.Itwas
inspiringtoworkharderon mylanguage skillsandaimforpublicationsinjournals.ButIalsorealized
that Hungaryis a small and exoticbutuninterestingcountry inthe westernworld.We startedtolook
for an opportunitytoparticipate inaninternationalresearch.
We startedto workwithprofessorKrausandhisteam ona researchproject.Throughthis
cooperationIcame aware of many differencesbetweenourcountrieseconomicsystems,andI
learnedaboutnewresearchmethods.Myadvice istolookfor opportunitiesof international
cooperationbecause youwill learnhowtopresentyourstudyina wayscientistsfromother
countriescanunderstandandworkwith. You have to thinkaboutall the readers’interestsand
needs,if youwantto publishinaninternationaljournal.
I had a side projectwithfacultyof dentistry.BecauseIcannotmake everyinterestingstudyalone I
gave it to a student.She wonthe firstprize inCulture,healthandmarketingsectionatthe National
Conference of ScientificStudents'Associations,butourgoal wasa journal publication.Until we
realizedthere issome problemwiththe theoretical backgroundof the studyandevenwhole rewrite
cannot make itgood enoughtopublishitina journal.The lessonisevenif yourworkhard,youneed
a solidtheoretical background.She isastudentof Universityof Southern Denmarknow andprepares
for a Ph.D.programme.
He ismy thirdstudentwhowonthe above mentionedprizeinthe economicpsychologysection.By
that time,Ihad practice about supervisingotherswork.Because inthatperiodIfocusedonmyown
papers,I wasnot involvedsomuch.Ireviewedthe textandmade a few suggestions.Imeanmore
than five hundredcorrections.Workingasa reviewerisveryuseful because youexperience the way
I am the supervisorof manybachelorandsome masterstudents.Theygive me new inspirations,I
can practice researchplanningwiththem, andtheyremindme where Istartedmylife asa scientist.I
alwaystell them:Learnnow,or youwill enduplike me:youwill be foreveratthe university.
In 2015 I washere withmy bestpaperso far.The feedbacksfrom the conference were veryuseful.
Aftera yearand three hundredgrammarand style correctionsyoucanread itin the lastissue of
Journal of Competitiveness.
Thisyear I justusedwhatI have learnedsofar.There is no empirical researchinmypaper. There is
no newtheoryinventedbymyself.Ijustgatheredall the evidence aboutatopicfromthe literature
and presentedinawaythat can be interestingforthe wideraudience of economists.Andnow Iam
here,lookingforinternationalcooperationand publicationopportunities.Youcanfindme around
thisposterlaterat the social evening.
I summarize myadvicesonthisslide.Findsomeone whocansupervise youuntil youcanstandon
your ownfeet.Improve yourlanguage skillsandfollow the trends onyourfield.Makingreviewsand
supervisingothersisagood wayto improve yourownwritingskills.Lookforopportunitiestoworkin
teamsand learnnewthings.One minor,butimportantthingistokeepyoursourcesandcitations
organizedsomehow.Iuse onlybasictools,butthese thingscanspare you a lotof time.Finally
no goldenpathbutI believeyoucando it.
As PhilipZimbardothe famoussocial psychologistsaid:“Academicsuccessdependsonresearchand
publications.”Ido notknowthe contextof thisquote,butit isverytrue.
Drive Your KnowledgeandBe a Scientist!ThankyouforyourAttention!