Some stare at the ceiling; some outline; some wait until the last minute …. Whatever your approach to writing, before you strangle your pen or accost your keyboard, consider a helpful suggestion: Ask yourself some questions. The answers will help you focus, track, and stay in tune with your readers.

First, why did you do this work? This may seem obvious, but it is not (as a matter of fact, it should always be part of a paper to briefly explain what motivated it.) Because a supervisor told me or because I could get funding are not acceptable answers. There...

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