This week Professor Galey asked us to think about a writer or writing example that provides an excellent model of writing which can be used to inform our research writing. I tend to be drawn to writing which incorporates a balance between theory and practice because though I enjoy thinking about the abstract I find it difficult to be engaged in a text that does not provide concrete examples. I love when I can read the author’s passion for the subject/topic in their writing. I’ve had some cases when I’ve started reading something with a negative preconceived notion (“Oh this isn’t going to be interesting at all”) only to find a few pages later that the way the writer has expressed their passion through their word choice is enough to engage me in a topic I originally had no interest in. I also love when an author is able to convey their knowledge/expertise in a humble way to their reader so that it does not read like they have all the answers and they are talking down to you… I like when the writer is able to invite the reader into the conversation by asking thought provoking questions and by incorporating imaginative scenarios to encourage the reader to think more in depth about their assertions. These are all areas I intend to consider including in my research project.
In terms of the actual construction of an academic piece I appreciate academic writers who use subheadings because I enjoy having the option to preview the text by using the headings to get an overview of what will be discussed in the work. I admire writers who have short and concise sentences (a skill I am always trying to improve). I also appreciate writers who use excellent analogies and who link many relevant examples with concepts that might be new and/or complex for the reader which is why I am enjoying Kristin Luker’s “Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences” since she has mastered that skill very well.
One of my favourite academic authors is Malcolm Gladwell (though he has become quite mainstreamed as well as controversial – is he only a storyteller or a social scientist?). He is an engaging storyteller who is able to craft personal narratives interspersed with academic studies, facts and well-researched scholars. His book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” Gladwell investigates how certain social and historical trends have shaped everyday practices and beliefs in contemporary society. The book is very accessible to a wide level of readers as it isn’t ridden with complicated jargon. He frames his analysis with a series of engaging questions that compel the reader to unpack (critically question) social phenomena.
Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Back Bay Books.