Friday, August 14, 2009

About This Blog

I was thrilled to discover that Olivier Chatain has suggested this blog as one of (so far) three resources for PhD students under the heading "Scholarly Writing". I am flattered by (but wholly in agreement with) the implication that budding management scholars should (1) get a grounding in Booth, Colomb, and Williams' classic The Craft of Research, (2) let Paul Silvia's invigorating How to Write a Lot motivate their writing process, and (3) read this blog every other day to help keep their eye on the ball. I thought I'd use the occasion to say a few things about what I'm trying to do here.

The main purpose of this blog is to serve as both an argument and resource for publishing in what we call "international journals" here on the continent. Whether you are a native or non-native speaker of English, learning to write in your research idiom is a bit like learning a new language, hence the name of the blog. I have a broad range of interests and Olivier is right that I try to keep things practical. That goes also for my management of this blog, which I update according to a regular schedule: three posts a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. This semester, I want to write three kinds of post.

First, and most importantly, I want to write about style and grammar. Learning how to write academic prose means learning how to construct sentences and paragraphs of a particular kind. Once you have mastered the basic grammar, however, there is still the question of "finding your voice", i.e., developing your style. Working from examples in the published literature, both good and bad, I will try to identify useful figures of speech and rules of grammar to help you in the day-to-day business of putting words together for optimal effect.

Next, I am very interested in the scholarship and epistemology of the managerial sciences, especially organization theory. What standards are in force in the literature? What counts as high-quality research? What does it mean to "know" something about management and organization? Here, I write from the perspective of a social epistemologist; that is, I assume that knowledge is a social achievement and that the most interesting question is not what knowledge is as such (or even whether or not something is known) but how knowledge circulates (and where it can be found). I also try to defend traditional values of scholarship (that's where Booth, Colomb and Williams come in). As in the case of style and grammar, I ground my reflections and sermons on examples drawn from the literature.

Finally, my work as the department's resident writing consultant has gotten me increasingly interested in the writing process. How do you organize your writing projects to ensure you make continuous progress and meet your deadlines? How do you ensure timely and relevant response from peers and colleagues? And how do you organize your working days and weeks to "protect" (as I like to put it) your writing time from the many other pressures of an academic career. Here Paul Silvia's book has been great inspiration.

Welcome to Research as a Second Language. Do drop me a line, either by email or in the comments, and let me know what you think and what you'd like me to think out loud about. Happy writing!

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