How much time to write a paper?

I have a deadline for a conference coming up. And it’s not like the deadline is a surprise, I’ve known about it for months. However, since the analysis phase of my experiment continued for what felt like a year (okay, about 4 weeks), I’m only now getting around to doing paper write up.

This is (amazingly) the first time in grad school where a paper deadline has felt like this looming monster that I’m racing to beat. Generally, since we know when this deadline is, and it’s our main conference, by this point, we’d already be at the editing stage of the paper. Instead, I’m still hacking together draft one.

However, I, unrealistically, told my supervisor I’d have a draft done today. And, considering I only really started working on the paper yesterday, this hasn’t worked out super well for me. Especially when you add on the fact that yesterday morning, I had little motivation to work on it (even with it already being the last minute) followed by my parents coming up meaning the entire late afternoon/evening was gone.

So, now, as I start Friday, I’m working with a skeleton paper. Thankfully the results section is mostly written, since I have been writing up my results as we worked on the analysis. I’ve put some bullet points into the intro, and some random facts into the related work section, and bullet points in the conclusion. Now comes the harder part of turning that into actual legible meaningful text. And then, of course, there will be the frantic search for those few references for stuff you know is true, you know the reviewers will know is true, but they’ll still bug you to actually have a reference to back it up.

I actually have a friend who said he’s written an entire paper in a single day. I think he even knew the total amount of time (something like 9 hours). I was impressed when he said it. But I’m even more impressed now, as I scramble like crazy to get this together. What’s the fastest paper you’ve ever written?

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2 thoughts on “How much time to write a paper?

  1. I write all of my papers in one day, a habit I’m trying to get out of now that I’m in grad school (I have a paper due Monday and I have yet to crack open a book). I usually spend hours reading then hours writing, but the fastest paper l have ever written with outside sources was a six page paper in 2 hours. Otherwise, like six to ten hours,including breaks and naps.

    • My two days does not include a lot of time that really went into this paper. Such as all the time I’ve spent reading papers (I take notes now, so I don’t have to re-read them later when I’m trying to figure out what references to use in a paper) or actually designing, implementing, running and analyzing my experiments. But it’s much more depressing to think that my paper actually took over 4 months to write. 🙂

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