How can you help make sure that people will believe what you are saying? What makes your writing credible? This is the second of a two-part series on how to gain credibility through your writing.
In Part 1, we started reviewing things to watch out for in your writing to boost your credibility with your readers:
- Be clear and logical
- Write correct English
- Keep the language simple
This article will talk about the remaining three tips:
- Don’t make claims you can’t back
- Check your sources
- Address the limitations of your work
So, here we go!
☑ Don’t make claims you can’t back.
That includes any kind of sweeping generalization. Expect that your reader will say, “What? Really?” when they read your statements.
Only make statements if you can back it up with proof. Otherwise, change the sentence.
(I’ve addressed this point in Tips for non-native English speakers on English academic writing too.)
☑ Check your sources.
For academic work, this can’t be emphasized enough. And it’s true for any other form of print media, even a blog article.
Check the credibility of any data you cite. Make sure it’s not some number that gained its legitimacy only because it’s been bandied about online.1
Pinpoint the source, make sure it’s legit.
And reference it, so that if someone wants to check the source, they can find it and examine it to their heart’s content.
☑ Address the limitations of your work.
Stating what your study doesn’t address or answer makes you more credible as a researcher. It shows that you are objective, critical, and analytical.
Besides, you know that your readers—especially journal editors and reviewers—will be looking for holes in your paper. If you don’t state the limitations, they will. And they will question how rigorously you have thought things through if you haven’t addressed the limitations in your text.
It’s better that you say it yourself and provide counterarguments, or acknowledge that that’s an area requiring further study.
Also, keep in mind that negative results can be just as important. 2 There’s no reason to hide them as a researcher.
Anything else I’ve missed? See also my: Tips for non-native English speakers on English academic writing (you’ll notice a lot of the points are the same).
The estimated number of children trafficked annually around the globe, for example:
1.2 million was the figure that was cited then re-cited among publications by UN agencies and NGOs. The references to this figure were almost circular—a leading NGO and newspapers cited UNICEF which cited its older report, which hinted at an ILO report which referred to another older ILO report, etc.
It seems the original source was a 2002 ILO statistical study, but only one major ILO report (that I could locate via Dr. Google) actually mentioned that study.
- Bates College, Dept of Biology, “The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper“