1. General writing tips for research papers and dissertations
    1. Use short sentences but not too short.
    2. Don’t spam \par in every paragraph
    3. Do not refer to sections or chapters
    4. Avoid excessive adjectives and some informal language
    5. Do not use possessive case, negation…
    6. Merge multiple references
    7. Images in LaTeX
      1. Do NOT use image position flags
      2. “Read” your images in the text
    8. Non-breaking space before citations
    9. Citations are not words
    10. Tables

General writing tips for research papers and dissertations

Here is a short list of tips to write a good dissertation report and research paper. Some are common sense, others are solutions to common issues in LaTeX.

Use short sentences but not too short.

A good sentence should take at least one line and at most 2 and a half line in your document. Long sentences make the reader lose track of the ideas, while short sentences seem copied and pasted.

Don’t spam \par in every paragraph

LaTex detects a blank line between your paragraphs. There is no need to put \par before every single paragraph.

Do not refer to sections or chapters

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid these like the plague:

As we will see in Section Y, ….

Do you really want your reader to click on the PDF cross-reference and jump 3 or 4 chapters of your dissertation to read the “more detailed explanation”?

As discussed in Chapter X,

This is more acceptable, but keep it to the absolute minimum! 1 or two of these in an entire dissertation is enough.

The trick is to keep your text flowing in such a way that you don’t need these sort of links. If introducing something that you will only talk later, you should either make a very brief summarization of the topic that will be introduced later. If it is a very large explanation and you actually require the reader to know all about what you are talking about, maybe you need to bring the referred section or subsection to before the current one…

Avoid excessive adjectives and some informal language

With this work, we hope to… → With this work, we will… —- Faith in God or any other entity will not get your work published

there has been an explosion in the growth of → There has been a significant increase in…

huge, enormous, etc… NO!

amazing, disruptive and similar BS adjectives —- leave this to the Web Summit people.

exponential growth —- unless you have a chart to back it up, NO, it is not exponential.

we will try to… → We will. —- Do or do not. There is no try young Padawan.

Do not use possessive case, negation…

don’t → do not

isn’t → is not

researchers’ opinions → opinions of the researchers

(Some exceptions can be made if you need to cram a 12-page short paper into a 4-page short paper)

Merge multiple references

Multiple references cited in a single sentence should be merged like this:

# incorrect
~\cite{Meijer2018},~\cite{Wilkinson2016}, ~\cite{Orth2016}

# correct
~\cite{Meijer2018, Wilkinson2016,Orth2016}

Images in LaTeX

An image should always have a caption, a label (for being referenced as Figure~\ref{fig:DescritoresDCMI} in the text), the path and a width that spans as a function of the \textwidth.

\begin{figure}[]
  \begin{center}
    \leavevmode
    \includegraphics[width=0.86\textwidth]{figures/DescritoresDCMI.png}
    \caption{Conjuntos de descritores Dublin Core}
    \label{fig:DescritoresDCMI}
  \end{center}
\end{figure}

Do NOT use image position flags

You may see that your images are not being positioned where you want in the document. You search on StackOverflow and discover this:

\begin{figure}[h!t!] # Force image to be placed in the h

It may work, but after a while it will not. Do not do it, let LaTex decide for you. Really, it’s better.

“Read” your images in the text

There is no point in putting an image in your document if you do not explain it to the reader. Make sure you refer it with ~\ref{fig:image} and explain it thouroughly. If you need, you can add several round circles with letters or numbers inside to the image, and use them to give a flow to your text.

Non-breaking space before citations

Use a tilde to apply a non-breaking space before the citations, so that they never stick to the word before them ~\cite{Meijer2018, Wilkinson2016,Orth2016}

Citations are not words

You should not use the citation as part of the sentence, ie it should be possible to read the entire sentence if the references are removed. This means that quotes must come at the end of each sentence where references are needed.

# incorrect
this is a positive step in the right direction, something that some projects such as ~\cite{Meijer2018, Wilkinson2016,Orth2016} aim to set as the norm.

# correct
this is a positive step in the right direction, something that some projects aim to set as the norm~\cite{Meijer2018, Wilkinson2016,Orth2016}.

Tables

Tables should always have a table caption and a label so that they can be referenced using Table~\{tab:tablename}. Here is a complete table template:

\begin{table}[]
\caption{A comparison of interesting alternatives for my work}
\label{tab:comparison}
\resizebox{\textwidth}{!}{
\begin{tabular}{llllcll}
\hline
                     & Developer          & Language Support      & Environment & \multicolumn{1}{l}{Multi-User} & Visualization & License       \\ \hline
Jupyter Notebook     & Jupyter            & Multi-Language        & Local       & No                             & ipywidgets    & Open Source  \\
\end{tabular}%
}
\end{table}