I came across this article at the Cop in the Hood blog site. Catching my attention was the title, and my same question, “Why is academic writing so bad?” There is plenty of information out there, but where are the gatekeepers to true “peer-reviewed” material?
He also mentioned my favorite theorist, none other than Jane Jacobs who I discussed in the first post I ever wrote for
Why is Academic Writing So Bad?
Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy:
In the end, it comes down to what a scholar is trying to achieve. If the goal is just narrow professional success — getting tenure, earning a decent salary, etc. — then bad writing isn’t a huge handicap and may even confer some advantages.
But if the goal is to have impact — both within one’s discipline and in the wider world — then there’s no substitute for clear and effective writing. The question is really pretty simple: do you want to communicate with others or not?
Back in October I looked at Amazon’s top 40 books in sociology. You had to get to number 43 (Alone Together by Sherry Turkle) before you came across a sociologist. Foucault came in at #61.
It’s not to say there wasn’t great sociology in the top 40. It’s just that this sociology isn’t being done by sociologists. Admittedly Amazon’s classification of “sociology” leaves a bit to be desired, but in the top 40 are 7 journalists, 3 moms, 2 CEOs, 1 priest, 1 aspiring model, 1 rapper, 1 liberal TV talk-show guy, 1 survivor of child abuse, 1 public speaker, and 1 community organizer / President of the United States.
There were 8 professors selling in the top 40 of sociology: three economics, and one each from Political Science, Computer Science, Law, Clinical Psychology, and Business Administration. Where are the sociologists?
via Cop in the Hood.