A lay summary can be a useful approach to breaking down barriers and making research accessible. A good summary focuses on the important aspects of the research, but distilling this information is not always easy. A helpful starting point for identifying the key elements of a research story can be the 5 Ws. Andy Tattersall finds this approach might not work for every piece of research, but it has the potential to allow researchers to explore key themes and retain control of what they say and how they say it.
What does the future hold for academic books? Rebecca Lyons introduces The Academic Book of the Future, a two-year project funded by the AHRC in collaboration with the British Library in which a cross-disciplinary team from University College London and King’s College London explores how scholarly work in the Arts and Humanities will be produced, read, shared, and preserved in coming years, and investigates key questions around the changing state and modern contexts of the academic book.
Critics of academic writing such as Steven Pinker and Nicholas Kristof often fail to understand the political aspects of how knowledge is shared. For example, graduate students might actually be mimicking “bad writing” in order to gain entry to a symbolically enclosed profession. Melonie Fullick argues that what is really being discussed is the nature of the academic profession, the role of intellectuals and scholars, and the means and manner of performing that role.
Academic blogging in the “accelerated academy”: How to build a personal, professional and public community.
As a dynamic space, a group blog can be particularly suited to the rapidly changing context of researcher development. Claire Aitchison, Susan Carter and Cally Guerin share their experiences developing a doctoral support blog, a global space for personal and professional development and for building community. Individuals and their institutions stand to benefit from blogging, they argue, but if it were to be mainstreamed, would the practice be able to retain the unique elements that account for its success?
Across all disciplines, the course of determining authorship does not always run smoothly. Emma-Louise Aveling and Graham Martin argue that with funders pushing for wider collaboration, dilemmas about how to allocate authorship fairly is set to intensify. They present guidelines for research teams to consider. To ensure all decisions remain transparent, start discussions on authorship credit early on in the research process.
Entering a new field of inquiry through reading often takes time. You don’t get a sense of it all straight away and it is sometimes very hard to discriminate between the writing that is unfamiliar and deals with difficult ideas that really challenge and stretch our thinking, and the crappy stuff. But, Pat Thomson argues, it is important to do so.
Terry Clague sheds reasonable doubt on the assertion that contributing to edited book chapters is a waste of time. The sole aim of publication isn’t necessarily to maximise citations. If citations are the only measure of academic value then there’s a danger that academic research becomes the X-Factor. Furthermore, edited collections can also aid discovery of new material where new voices and approaches can be heard.
Academic citation practices need to be modernized so that all references are digital and lead to full texts.
Researchers and academics spend a lot of time documenting the sources of the ideas, methods and evidence they have drawn on in their own writings. But Patrick Dunleavy writes that our existing citation and referencing practices are now woefully out of date and no longer fit for purpose. The whole scholarly purpose of citing sources has changed around us, but our conventions have not recognized the change nor adapted yet. Below he sets out what’s wrong with what we do now, and then sketches a radical agenda for starting afresh.