Writing up a project and getting it published


Writing up the project or your research will always take longer than you think, so leave a lot of time. It may be easier to get a number of people to write up different sections of the project and for one person to edit and tie everything together at the end. If one person is writing the whole project it is always good practice to start the next chapter before taking a break otherwise it is difficult to come back and start from scratch.


It may be helpful to make a list of everything you want to say and tick it off as it is written. Plan the report first so it has a clear introduction including why and how the project was undertaken, a middle part that contains the results and an end that has recommendations or conclusions arising from the results.


Any publication of a finished project should be written concisely and without jargon. If the aims and objectives of the project have been focussed from the beginning it will be easier to report the findings in a clear manner. There is more advice on how to write clearly and understandably on the Plain English Campaign website: www.plainenglish.co.uk. Jargon is a word or set of words that is only understood by a particular group of people and if writing for those people jargon can be a useful form of shorthand. If you are writing for the general public, however, try not to use jargon. If you feel you have to, explain what the word means in brackets or somewhere else in the text.


Copyright permission should be sought for all images used in a publication, whether in hard copy or on the web. The owner of the copyright will usually want a statement of ownership to appear on or next to the image and it is also possible to watermark the image if the owner has a corporate badge. Remember, copyright lasts for a photograph or painting for 70 years after the death of the artist or photographer. Look at the Patent Office’s website on copyright for more details: www.patent.gov.uk/copy.


Copyright also exists for written documents too. In this case it is not necessary to ask permission to quote part of the text or use an idea in someone else’s publication but it should be referenced. There are several ways to reference someone else’s work. You can do footnotes, in which case the quote would have a number after it like this[1] and the footnote would contain the author’s name, year of publication and title (in italics) and page numbers (see footnote below). Alternatively the same reference could be expressed in the Harvard style and appear in brackets after the text (Reed 1979, 95-7). In this case all you need is the last name of the author, date of publication and the page number. If you have to reference two texts by the same author in the same year, one would be 1979a and the other 1979b, and so on. For both systems it is good practice to have a full list of references in alphabetical order at the end. This would have the author’s last name, initials, year, title and place of publication and the publisher:

Reed, M, 1979. The Buckinghamshire Landscape. London: Hodder & Stoughton.


For an article you must cite the journal name (in italics) and edition and page numbers in the references:

Everson, P, 2001. Peasants, Peers and Graziers: the Landscape of Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire, interpreted. Records of Buckinghamshire 41, 1-45.


In order to quote and reference people's work properly, then, it is important to have taken good notes that you can look back at. Go to researching and note taking for more advice on this matter.


Oral history is also copyrighted. The interviewer has the right as author of an oral history and has to be references when anything from their oral history research is used. It is unethical, and in many cases illegal, to use interviews without the informed consent of the interviewee, in which the nature of the use or uses is clear and explicit. Advice for how to do ethical oral history research can be found at: www.oralhistory.org.uk/ethics.


[1] M Reed, 1979. The Buckinghamshire Landscape, 95-7.


If you have funding to publish a book on your project, do not be afraid that the world is becoming digital. Most people still like reading books. However, a common condition of funding nowadays is that there is sustainability beyond the life of the project. It will not be possible to just write a book and leave the subject. If a book is produced, the sustainability may be in a different strand to the project, such as continuing to amass a collection of photographs, provision for monitoring of a monument etc…


It may be that the sustainability of the project is to maintain a website or that you don’t have funding for your project. In this case, you may want to consider publication over the Internet. This is cheap and relatively easy and allows work to continue on the project indefinitely. The other benefit of creating a website is that it can be read by many more people than a print run of books (which is usually only 500). There are lots of books and websites devoted to how to build your own website.


When the book, report or article is written it will be distributed either by you or your publisher to those who order it, usually libraries and individuals. Depending on the subject of your publication, it is likely that various organisations would be grateful of a copy for their records. If it is an report, dissertation or thesis on the archaeology of Buckinghamshire that you have written up, the Historic Environment Record will need to have a copy to include the salient points in the database. If it is on the subject of family or local history, the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies is the place to offer a copy to.


Click here for more heritage resources.