I have recently come across a brilliant book by Kristin Luker with a peculiar name Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences.* I consider it the most helpful book I have ever read on academic writing and I will tell you why.
Firstly, the book acknowledges the fact that the academic world of today is incrementally different to the one of the previous generation, but we still tend to use the same old methodologies and approaches to research, while the fundamentals of the world are different. Unlike the olden days, we are required to make connections across traditional boundaries – going wider rather than deeper, we need to handle the so called info-glut (the abundance of information) and we live in a less linear world than earlier.
Secondly, the book suggests ways how to deal with these new realities and how to do research (be it a working paper, thesis or a book) in a captivating way. Thirdly, the book gives you hope and optimism that you can work on whatever topic interests you, no matter how your faculty or fellow colleagues will feel about your research interest (i.e. flirting at workplace), you just need to present your juicy case study in such a way that they feel connected to it.
Fourthly, while reading the book, you will feel as if you were back at school, sitting at your desk and listening to an amazingly inspiring and kind teacher which feels so different to the frost-biting atmosphere at the university. Lastly, what is amazing is that in the chapter Living your life as a salsa-dancing social scientist Luker strongly encourages students to have a social life and not to be obsessed with their work life only.
If you are currently on the battlefield trying to find the topic of your thesis, or you want to learn about academic writing in an engaging way, do read this book. It will get you back on the track and help you be passionate about what you study and research.
* Salsa-dancing social sciences is both a practice and metaphor and describes a healthy combination of rigorous traditional social science with innovative holistic approach.