An algorithm to end your paper with a bang, not a whimper
You’ve just finished the Best Paper Ever Written, but something’s missing: that perfect last sentence that will make your readers jump from their seats and shout, “Encore! Encore!” They shouldn’t leave before the soprano hits her highest note. What’s the secret? Here’s an algorithm – distilled from thousands of high-impact papers – that practically guarantees success.
Method: Two readers, working independently, read the same paper and wrote down the last sentence. In a second step they met to drink very strong coffee and compare data. Surprisingly, the results were sometimes in disagreement. Whoever made the mistake had to buy the coffee. Subsequently, the same steps were repeated on 20,000 more papers, over a period of time that seemed infinite but was likely somewhat shorter. At regular intervals coffee was withheld and whiskey was administered, as a means of ameliorating neurological symptoms and reducing the likelihood of cardiac incidents. When 20,000 sentences had been collected, a systematic comparison was undertaken. Initially this produced no results, due to the inability of the researchers to detect patterns or even stand up most of the time. After six months in a rehabilitation center, their cognitive abilities had returned somewhat and the data was submitted to a second round of analysis. This yielded a model and a powerful algorithm that generates the final sentence for any paper, in a high-throughput way, with very minimal input from the author.
Results: Most high-impact papers end in this sentence (n = 13,521; p < 0.05):
This suggests that our work will surely open new avenues in the diagnosis of individuals suffering from cancer.
Astoundingly, this is true even for papers that don’t mention cancer at all and fail to provide evidence of any connection to cancer. Of course it’s almost impossible to rule out a connection; with a little creativity, anything can be connected to anything, including Kevin Bacon. We all know that the best way to demonstrate that something is connected to cancer is to claim, in print, that it is not: within days somebody will find some sort of link.
In nearly all the other papers, authors changed a few words to include their own content but kept the structure of the model sentence. This provided a template for the algorithm:
This 1 that our 2 will 3 4 new 5 in the 6 of 7 suffering from 8 .
The algorithm can be used by anyone capable of following simple instructions: From each column below, choose the word that best fits your research, then put it in the corresponding slot in the following model sentence:
||quality of life
||bring to a conclusion
||terminal old age
||lack of sleep
||conceptual development of
||a case of the giggles
||occupational therapy of
||queens/ other titles of royalty
||domestic situation of
||split personality disorders
||visa status of
||the attention of a two-year-old
||marital status of
||irrationally happy people
||alien life forms
||retirement parties of
||electrical sockets of
In rare cases, the most fitting words for your project will all be found in one row:
This concludes that our conclusions will conclusively bring to a conclusion new dead ends in the mortality of senior citizens suffering from terminal old age.
But in most cases you will need to mix items from different rows, producing sentences like this:
This proclaims that our project will omnisciently inflame gravel roads in the recovery of royalty suffering from poor self-esteem.
This hints that our witticisms will succinctly enhance new escalators in the recovery of chickens with poor hygeine.
The power of the algorithm lies in the number of possible combinations it can produce: namely, 258. Somewhere in this galaxy of sentences must be one that adequately describes your project. If not, you should probably change topics.
The sentence produced by this algorithm should be put at the end of the “Discussion” section. “Discussion” was coined by combining the words “Discus” and “concussion”, reflecting the fact that a good paper should have an impact. A good discussion compresses the paper’s data into a heavy object, if possible with a good aerodynamic shape, and hurls it high into the atmosphere. A high-impact paper will return with such force that anyone struck by it will require medical attention. To avoid being struck yourself, which is embarrassing, never throw your discussion straight up. This suggests that our work will surely open new avenues in the diagnosis of individuals suffering from cancer.
All material on this website copyright 2016 by Russ Hodge