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Cut to the heart of your background research with advice from Tarja Moles

Academic journals are great resources when you have already done your basic research and want to go deeper. Indeed, there are a number of factors that make journal articles worth exploring: they have a very specific focus and contain highly specialised information; they tend to convey the latest research findings; and they’re more likely to be of high quality as they’re written by experts whose work is peerreviewed (ie evaluated by specialists) prior to publication.

Having said this, journals are not the easiest type of publications to study. Academic articles cannot be read like you would read a news item or a short story. In contrast, they’re built around a key argument (ie a claim or a line of reasoning) and structured accordingly. To support the argument, the author shows what the logical reasoning behind his/her claim is. Depending on the article’s subject matter and perspective, the key argument can be built on evidence, theory or both.

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Make this the month you make your dreams real and start becoming a writer in the Get Serious issue, with advice on: • How a change of attitude will help you, and the wider world, take your writing seriously • How to stay motivated past the difficult mid-novel slump • Money matters: Are you charging enough for your freelance writing? PLUS How to make sense of your royalty statements Cover star Jake Arnott tells us about finding the stories and characters that society overlooks and we explore the style and technique of forensic crime superstar Patricia Cornwell Get your work out there with opportunities to get published and competitions with more than £60,000 total prize money in 20 packed pages of Writers' News. All this plus our definitive guide to writing festivals, courses and other events for 2017