10 Practical Tips for Improving Workflow and Connecting Ideas in Writing

Writer typing on a laptop
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1. Understand your topic’s purpose

Before even starting the actual writing, it’s important to connect a topic for your paper that is relevant to the purpose or goal you are trying to achieve. Ask yourself questions that will help guide your work from ideation to final completion. For example:

2. Utilize the Scholarcy Plugin for Summarizing Potential Sources

Once you have formulated your research or paper topic into a concrete idea, the next step is to begin searching for applicable sources. When looking for sources for academic research and writing, the most common approach is to search for relevant information on either Google Scholar or a university/research institution library catalog. With this approach it’s easy to identify potential sources that will support the message of your writing.

Scholarcy plugin for research paper summarization
Scholarcy plugin for research paper summarization

3. Organize your sources

For many researchers, once great sources have been identified, it can become easy to lose track of what ideas from other literature are relevant for your work. Throughout the research or literature review stage of your writing, it’s important to take notes of relevant concepts, sort sources into categories for later reference, and keep track of the titles and authors of the papers you are reviewing.

Source Organization in File Explorer
Source Organization in File Explorer
Example of Source Organization

4. Utilize the comment feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader

Another added benefit of saving your sources as a pdf, is that if you are using Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can use the comment function to annotate and highlight your source for relevant information as you read it. This is a free tool with the service!

Editing text in Adobe Acrobat Reader
Example of Adobe Acrobat Reader Editor

5. Plan out the content first

Before getting started writing and after finishing your source research and literature, it’s always useful to plan out the skeleton of the paper first. A logical layout for your paper prior to writing will allow you to follow a plan that makes greater sense of the content you are providing, connecting introductory paragraphs, main body text, and final messages and conclusions.

Person organization thoughts with post it notes and paper
Image by Nappiness from Pixabay

6. Structure Your Paper

When writing the paper, it is important that the skeleton sections of the paper are created in order for the proper information to be placed in the correct areas. In the majority of research papers, the structure generally follows a simple pattern that can be repeated throughout all writing pieces. This pattern first starts with a title, then moves into the abstract and introduction, followed by a methodology, results section, discussion of results, and a conclusion, as can be seen in the diagram below.

Diagram of paper structure
Brief Diagram of Paper Structure
  • When creating the abstract, this section should serve as a summary of the entire paper with clear, to-the-point sentences. Any discussion of the results and conclusions should be brief as to not give away too much information.
  • The introduction should provide background context as to where the paper can be placed in recent trends related to the subject, and more importantly where previous research has led to the topic being addressed.
  • The methodology of the paper serves as a detailed explanation of the procedure followed to obtain the results of the research. The methodology should be sufficiently detailed such that it could be duplicated by another person entirely.
  • The results section is dedicated to describing the results of the research with a completely neutral perspective. What was obtained? Does it make sense according to the methodology?
  • The discussion section should then review the results and discuss the meaning of the results obtained. This is where statements, assumptions, opinions, etc., can be contemplated regarding the results.
  • Finally the conclusion section should revisit briefly all of the sections of the report, with a greater emphasis on the results, discussion, and subsequent conclusions drawn from the research.
  • The references section is a place for all sources utilized in the paper to be listed.

7. Understand the Relationships Between Ideas that are Being Established

When writing, are the ideas that you are connecting meant to be causation — one idea consequently affecting another? Are they chronological, following sequential order in time? Are the connections written in descending order of importance? These are just a few examples of the types of writing connections that can be established. Identifying the type of concept connections you would like to include is vital to establishing a process to go about writing the text in a way that has flow and logical order.

Person writing on laptop
Image by janeb13 from Pixabay

8. Utilize Connecting Words to Write Out Associated Ideas

Once you’ve identified the types of connections between ideas in your writing, the next step is to utilize the best connecting words to portray these associations properly. Connecting words really are the bread and butter of this entire concept, and help portray these associations between ideas in a manner that is logical and supports the argument of the text. To explore all of the potential connecting words at a writer’s arsenal, check out this resource page Connecting Ideas in Writing from the University of Melbourne, which explains and exemplifies all the potential use cases for different types of connecting words. If you need a more detailed explanation with examples, check out the following video.

9. Utilize Citation Generators

If there is one aspect I can suggest the most from this list, it would be to use a citation generator for creating your bibliography. If you are doing this process by hand on your own, you are wasting your time. There are a plethora of great resources to use for creating citations. In many cases when simply providing a URL link or research article title as input, the citation generator auto completes the rest of the information required for the citation.

Library book shelf
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

10. Use a Writing Assistant Tool

If you are prone to overwriting and grammatical errors, consider utilizing a writing assistant tool such as Grammarly, Rytr, or Jarvis. With a writing assistant tool, it’s possible to simplify your writing process by avoiding unnecessary mistakes and creating clearer and more concise sentences. This is especially helpful if English is your second language! You can check out some of the best options for writing assistant tools from the resource Best AI Writing Assistant Software from G2.

Thank you for Reading!

At Scrintal we are passionate about creating content that helps others in the same position as ourselves. As a team made up of Researchers, PhD candidates, and Master’s students, we understand the challenges of writing and research and that’s exactly why we’ve built Scrintal.

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Scrintal — the visual notebook dedicated to transforming the way we think, create, study, and research.



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