Category Archives: writing

too much sociology…?

The magazine n+1 recently published an article about the rise and inefficacy of critical sociology. It’s a strange piece which, i think, accords sociology way too much influence. but it does have some salient points, particularly relating to the balance between structure and agency in sociological writing. The editors write:  “In spite of the strenuous […]

ask a scatterbrain: post-review changes not suggested by reviewers

On behalf of an anonymous reader: After submitting an article to a journal, I have received a revise & resubmit decision along with two reviewer reports. The changes suggested by the reviewers and the editor seem reasonable and doable. However, it has occurred to me after I received the reports that the statistical model I […]

ask a scatterbrain: self-citation in works in progress

Is there a standard way to indicate that an author has cut and paste a chunk of text from an earlier work into a work-in-progress? As I move from one part of a larger project to another, I like to plunk down chunks of text as placeholders to frame the argument, provide theoretical or historical […]

most concise paper ever published

H/T my friend Phil Spiro:  

technical notes for co-authoring

I am writing up a set of instructions for my student co-authors on how to work together on a shared Word document. My own graduate education had abundant training in the word processing arts (owing to a 2nd job I had to take to make ends meet), but I find that not every graduate student […]

ask a scatterbrain: R&R response letter

With all the discussion about journals, submitting, and reviewing, there has been little discussion about the revise-and-resubmit response letter…. What is necessary to include in a response letter to the editors and reviewers?  What is overkill?  How long have your letters been? Have you written separate letters for each reviewer?   How do you explain away […]

my book in index cards

I came upon a box in my office today. It contained my book, or at least many chunks of it, in index cards. It looked like this: I think it looks beautiful.

going and stopping

Almost everyone agrees — and this is supported by my own many years of observation of colleagues — that the  most productive scholars have regular schedules of writing a few hours every day.  We binge writers can be intensely productive when we are working and can get a lot done in a short time, but […]

my grammatical pet peeves

Here are some of the things that annoy me in papers, presentations, etc., and that I’m apt to edit out or mark on manuscripts/papers I’m reviewing/grading: Comprise vs. compose Split infinitives Use of “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun Use of the second person, just about ever Use of “natural” or “human nature” as (implicit […]

best book in the universe! now in book form!

Well, maybe not the best book from an objective point of view, but from where I am standing, the arrival of my very own copy of this book is pretty amazing. I just got my advance copy of How the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism. It is an analysis of the complex dynamics […]

co-authoring: ask a scatterbrain

From an esteemed colleague: What set of issues should be discussed before two (or more) people agree to write a paper together?  There are obvious contenders here – order of authorship, timeline, etc. – but what else is important?

publishing: ask a scatterbrain*

Some questions on publishing: What are the politics of publishing? Which journals are professional brass rings? Are there journals that might accept my articles but at the same time are so unrespected that publishing in them is tantamount to admitting I’m a lousy academic? The impact factor is one way to go about it but […]

the brief research statement

A graduate student of mine is writing up a scholarship application that includes a one-page statement of proposed research. In giving this student feedback, I offered the following advice for what to include and the order in which to present it: My proposed study is about this. Here is why this problem is important. Here […]

book writing: so exciting i might hurl

OMG! I am reading the copyedits of my book and making almost-final revisions! Squeee! I don’t know what is wrong with me, but for whatever reason, I have this feeling of excitement combined with nervousness that seems to be building upon itself into a crazy whirlpool of doom/glee in my stomach. Why the doom? Why […]


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