The Department of General and Liberal Studies (GLS) of the School of Basic and Biomedical Sciences (SBBS) held its second departmental seminar on July 31 on the theme: Breaking the Barriers in Writing for Academic Publication. The seminar was attended by a cross-section of UHAS faculty and administrators.
In her opening remarks, UHAS University Librarian, Dr. Theresa Adu, who chaired the seminar, told participants that it is the tradition of academics to write, hence the need to regularly sharpen the skill of effectively communicating in writing. She said “The forum is meant to assist faculty churn out well-written manuscripts that will be accepted everywhere.”
GLS Head of Department and convener of the yearly seminar, Dr. Benjamin Amoakohene, said the seminar is intended to create a space for academics to share research ideas within specific disciplines as well as give budding writers the opportunity to learn from others: “My mandate as a head of department is to promote research, teaching and community service; therefore, these yearly seminars have come to stay.”
Taking participants through the session on “Effective Writing for Academic Publication”, Dr. Isaac Nuokyaa-Ire Mwinlaaru, Senior Lecturer at the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, said academics need to write in well-established and acclaimed journals in order to share their work and have an influence in their field. He added that in order for manuscripts to be accepted in highly acclaimed journals, writers must note that the environment is highly competitive and they must compete against others for their works to be accepted and recognised.
Dr. Mwinlaaru said there is the need to do a thorough work based on the need for the study, soundness of data, originality of findings and the contribution of the study to the body of knowledge. He added that a manuscript would stand a better chance of matching editors’ expectations if it is readable, original, applicable, credible and has internationality. Most often manuscripts are rejected based on poor writing skills and failure to meet journal criteria; but he advised those whose manuscripts are rejected to accept it in good faith and work towards rectifying the gaps that have been identified.
Professor Gift Mheta, Manager of the Writing Centre, Steve Biko Campus, Durban University of Technology, South Africa, spoke via Zoom on “Editing In the 21st Century”. He advised faculty to read wider and more intensely on the subject area they are investigating while allowing the writing process to freely flow. “After, you can subject it to a fresh pair of eyes.”
He noted that proofreading and editing are different but complimentary stages of writing which contribute to the quality and clarity of a written work. “If done meticulously, writing for publication becomes less stressful.” He also noted that in an era of artificial intelligence, technological tools have become an essential part of writing and editing but advised participants not to rely solely on these as they can woefully fail. “They save time and bring consistency to editing, however, they remain aids, and should not be allowed to supplant human judgment and critical thinking,” he warned.