Tailor your paper to your audience

Now that we’re (finally) getting to the end point of writing our paper (deadline is quickly approaching) we’re getting to the “fun” stage. This is the stage where you work hard to get the paper to fit within the page limit. And you double check all your results. And are carefully examining for spelling and grammar errors, even though everyone misses a few (but, to all that do try, thank you, I wish there were more of you).

However, while you’re busy doing those tasks, take a break to read your paper over and think about your audience. Where are you submitting? What kinds of papers normally get accepted by that conference or journal? Did you keep your audience in mind while writing the paper? 

What does that mean? Well, it means making sure the motivation in your paper explains why your research, and this paper, should be considered appropriate and important by the readers of the journal/conference you’re submitting to. It means presenting your results, or method, or whatever part of your paper is ‘novel’ such that the part that is important to the audience is the part that is highlighted.

Let’s say you’re writing a paper on a new piece of software. If you’re audience is a software design group, you may want to focus on how you designed the software – what new methods or techniques you’re trying. If your audience is a human computer interaction group, you should instead focus on the user interface or any studies you’ve done on people using the software.

I was reminded of this, when I was re-reading our paper recently, and realized we were missing some of the key motivation. Key motivation to give the paper a chance of being accepted where we’re submitting. Thankfully, we still have time to edit the paper and add this in. But, it’s a good reminder how important this is.

Writing a paper, you always need to remember that the readers, your audience, can’t read your mind. They don’t know what you meant to say, or the assumptions you made, or possibly even the (obvious to you) connection as to why your research should be seen as important and worth accepting. It’s your job to supply all of that information (and also, to not take offence if someone points out that it’s missing).

So, before you submit your next paper, take a moment to make sure you’ve tailored the paper for your audience.

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