exit via the gift shop


What do you give an academic during gift-giving season?  Well I can’t tell you what to do of course, but as a guide to the generous, here’s a list of a few writing-related books that I would put in someone’s back pocket.

For the new researcher: a classic that never fails to deliver, Howard Becker’s Writing for Social Scientists. How to Start and Finish your Thesis, Book or Article. Second Edition (1986)

For the rhetorically insecure: complete with explanations and models to follow: not new, but worth having, Graff and Birkenstein’s They Say, I Say. The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. Third Edition (2014)

For the recently viva-ed PhD wanting to turn their thesis into a book: William Germano’s classic From Dissertation to Book. Second Edition (2013)

For the qualitative research beginner: Sally Campbell Galman’s The Good, the Bad and the Data: Shane the Lone Ethnographer’s Basic Guide to Qualitative Data Analysis (2013) – it’s in graphic novel form

For the qualitative research nerd: Melissa Freeman’s Modes of Thinking for Qualitative Data Analysis (2017)

For the researcher with the new phone camera: Mitchell, De Lange and Moletsane’s Participatory Visual Methodologies, Social Change, Community and Policy (2017)

For the researcher wishing to understand the skewed geographies of academic publishing Curry and Lillis’ Global Academic Publishing. Policies, Perspectives and Pedagogies. (2017)

For those who favour clear speech and a real book –  The Guardian stylebook. It is now online, but you can pick up a second-hand copy pretty cheaply and it’s miles more useful than Strunk and White IMHO.

And lastly, for someone who’d rather read fiction or something close to it, while thinking about the possibilities of academic writing:

Any of Patricia Leavy’s Social Fiction series

Pandian and Maclean’s edited collection Crumpled Paper Boat, Experiments in Ethnographic Writing (2017)

And, well, actually loads of the anthropological… just to start with… Michael Taussig’s Law in a Lawless Land (2003), Kirin Narayan’s My Family and Other Saints (2007), Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects (2007), Hugh Raffles’s Insectopedia (2010), Robert Desjarlais’s Counterplay (2011), Ruth Behar’s Traveling Heavy (2013), Renato Rosaldo’s The Day of Shelley’s Death (2013) and Paul Stoller’s Yaya’s Story (2014).

My favourite DIY graphic writing book, Lynda Barry’s What It Is: Do You Wish You Could Write? (2008)

I’ve spectacularly failed to promote my own books here – but you know how I feel about self-promotion… :0 And no, I get no kickback from any of these recommendations.


Patter is giving herself permission to have a day off next Monday but will be back for an EEK It’s nearly 2018 post on the weekend.


image credit: astrangegirl, Flickr The Commons

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic writing, book recommendations, books and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to exit via the gift shop

  1. Julie Rowlands says:

    This is a fabulous list thank you Pat


  2. Damian Chapman says:

    This is a wonderful list, many thanks Pat


  3. Pingback: Great Xmas gift from the wonderful Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham | damian chapman blog

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