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Jul 25, 2013

On writing: just a thought

I have always wanted to write a paper and get it published in a renowned journal. Here, I want to talk about one article that got published in an international journal. It is about the spread of Japanese encephalitis in hilly districts of Nepal. While starting to write the paper, I had to struggle for a whole year. I was motivated to write it but I felt the need for a coaching on writing the paper. So, I approached Dr. Jeff for his advices on writing it well. I found him inspirational and guided me providing useful tips and reviewed the paper till it got published. I miss person like him, who can guide and mentor on writing academic paper. Now, it has been about 2 years that I have not been able to publish a good paper in a good journal except poster presentation in conferences and be satisfied with it. There are some major setbacks that I have found within myself which has hindered from writing a paper. I am trying to sort it out. Let me see how it progresses. While trying to understand what can be barrier to writing down your ideas / thoughts, however absurd it may be, some of the reason could be as follows:

1.       1 % inspiration, 99 % perspiration: Somebody said so. It is true. If somebody says that he can't write saying language is a barrier or this and that in order to get excuse for not writing. It is simply complacency for not writing or in other word, procrastination. So, it can be said that complacency is the greatest enemy getting things done so even writing.

2.       Cultural link: Uhmm……….There may be some truth in saying that there is some cultural link. Some may agree, others equally disagree. I am of the opinion that it plays some role in our part of the world. If I am from a family of higher social strata, it is most likely that I am going to be well versed in Sanskrit text or "Slokas" or English (why?..this another area of discourse..) so, there is every likely that I will excel in education. While from a poor or disadvanted family, there is every possibility that s/he may drop out early from school because of various reasons (why?..this also another area of discourse..). Even if you rise up the social ladder, you have to struggle lot so you will have ample time to write and get your work get published. I can give lots of example for this.
  • Reading and writing culture: What does it mean is lack of reading and writing culture in developing countries compared to western developed countries can be one reason (exceptions are there). I think many of us believe this arguement though it may sound flimsy for some of you.
  • Hierarchical culture: If you dissect historical, cultural and religious facts in low income countries like Nepal, I have to say that hierarchical culture is hindrance to the spread of equal opportunity for people.  But, on the contrary, we still observe social practices that is keep certain community of people away from mainstream social benefit like education.
3.       Peer groups / academic clubs:  I find influence of social network or academic circle to be an important reason. Let me put this way - If you are in close circle of obese friends, it is said that there is a likelihood that you are also going to be obese over a period of time. So, the same analogy can be applied to writing and publishing paper. If there is a culture of regular discussion at journal club or debate at debate house, then there is every possibility that your mind will get ignited with some idea or concept at some point of time, which compels you to write and share your idea among your colleagues. Who knows, that simple idea could turn to be a landmark paper, if well written.
4.       Mentorship / coaching: Another important reason can be lack of formal mentoring to learn through guidance, somewhat like apprenticeship or internship. Although, there used to be a system of teacher and student (Guru and Chela) in Vedic period in Mah Bharat region, it was meant only for people of certain origin, whereas major proportion of population was ignored from this opportunity.  Now, this proportion of people kept away from formal or informal education, may be decreasing, but there are still millions of people, who are unfortunate to get the opportunity of proper education.

These are my general  and personal statement. There may be many counter - guments against what I am saying and I may be wrong, too. These points are based on my personal experiences in the area, where I was brought up and the kind of schooling that I received. To elaborate a bit more on the kind of education that we recieved. ow, I realize, our education was based primarily on memorizing rather than focus on comprehension of the subject. I never felt, there was importance given to improve reading, writing and comprehension skills. I also want to share that there was no proper library till we completed class 12. Because of poor education in government school, many parents were bound to send their children in missionary school or private boarding schools. I have many stories to share on how we learnt English, why was it necessary?  What are the difficulties if English is your 3rd or 4th language? How difficult is it to express your ideas, thoughts or concepts in English?  What is linguistic gap? I leave all these entire questions for others to ponder and share their opinion, while I will try to answer in my next post.
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Anuj in Himalayas

Hi i am connecting disqus with my blog for healthy interaction and open dialogue