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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

As we have discussed in previous chapters, there are a wide variety of opportunities to communicate with publics, but beyond these exist other scenarios for engagement, including engagement with policy frameworks, which can also have their challenges. As with communication with a public audience, doubts can arise as to how to access, convey and work with stakeholders who are focused on political issues of governance; but just as in work with publics, increasing awareness of policymakers’ needs, operational practices and access routes can assist

in Creative research communication
Theory and practice

Considering how to communicate your research or engage others with the latest science, social science or humanities research? This book explores new and emerging approaches to engaging people with research, placing these in the wider context of research communication. Split into three sections, Creative Research Communication explores the historical routes and current drivers for public engagement, before moving on to explore practical approaches and finally discussing ethical issues and the ways in which research communication can contribute to research impact.

Starting from the premise that researchers can and ought to participate in the public sphere, this book provides practical guidance and advice on contributing to political discourse and policymaking, as well as engaging the public where they are (whether that is at the theatre, at a music festival or on social media). By considering the plurality of publics and their diverse needs and interests, it is quite possible to find a communications niche that neither offers up bite-sized chunks of research, nor conceptualises the public as lacking the capacity to consider the myriad of issues raised by research, but explains and considers thoughtfully the value of research endeavours and their potential benefits to society.

It’s time for researchers to move away from one-size fits all, and embrace opportunities for creative approaches to research communication. This book argues for a move away from metrics and tick box approaches and towards approaches that work for you, as an individual researcher, in the context of your own discipline and interests.

This book guides students in how to construct coherent and powerful essays and dissertations by demystifying the process of creating an argument and helping students to develop their critical skills. It covers everything from the beginning stages of reading critically and keeping notes, through to the final stages of redrafting and proof-reading. It provides step-by-step instructions in how to identify, define, connect and contrast sociological concepts and propositions in order to produce powerful and well-evidenced arguments. Students are shown how to apply these lessons in essay writing, and to a longer piece of writing, such as a dissertation, as well as how to solve common problems experienced in writing, including getting rid of waffle, overcoming writer’s block and cutting an essay down to its required length. For students wishing to improve their basic writing skills or to refresh their memories, the book also gives a clear and concise overview of the most important grammatical rules in English and how to use them to good effect in writing clear sentences and sensible paragraphs.

Examples from essays written by sociology students at leading universities are used throughout the book. These examples are used to show what students have done well, what could be done better and how to improve their work using techniques of argument construction. It will be of use to students studying sociology and related disciplines, such as politics, anthropology and human geography, as well as for students taking a course which draws upon sociological writing, such as nursing, social psychology or health studies.

Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

and to link this to your own argument. Giving a sense of purpose: Some essays are clearly about a topic that is of political, ethical or other public significance. For example, you might be asked a question about gender inequality, which continues to be a substantial problem in contemporary British society and elsewhere. Moreover, academic research on gender equality is often about trying to understand how inequalities come about in order to be able to challenge them and thus find a remedy. The scholarship has a clear political purpose. This type of work

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

is the difference between academic and non-academic sources. Non-academic writing would include, say, a party political manifesto, or a news article by a journalist investigating MPs making inappropriate expenses claims. These materials could certainly feature as data in an academic source, for example in a study of the role of political advisers or of white-collar crime, but they are not academic sources themselves. The difference is between documents which represent data – primary sources – and the academic studies – secondary sources – of those documents which

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

’s experience can be isolated and described independently of race, class, sexual orientation, and other realities of experience.’ [Reworked quotation from a second-year student’s essay] Case study 2: a paragraph from an essay on gender and sexuality The following paragraph comes from an essay on the sociology of gender and sexuality. It forms part of the student’s overall argument that heterosexuality is no longer compulsory but remains the dominant norm in social organisation and identity politics. In other words, the student’s overall argument is

in The craft of writing in sociology
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

accessible to far broader populations within society than might be assumed. For skilled workers and artisans, access to science was increasingly possible, due to the reduced costs of publishing, allowing individuals to read more widely rather than intensively; and increasing one’s knowledge was often supported by certain paternalistic employers who were keen to encourage their workers in educational pursuits (Knight, 2006 ). At times this provided some level of political discontent; for example, in France the increasing instruction in, accessibility and discussion

in Creative research communication
Abstract only
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

opt out of this debate, as my essay aims to explore the conditions and causes of so-called terrorism; consequently, for the purpose of this analysis, I will sceptically employ this term throughout. This essay will argue that although theories of political violence and terrorism are to a great extent adequate, it is important to fastidiously understand the geographically unique, physical, cultural, political and historical aspects affecting terrorism, which I call the local environment. Consequently, dominant theories of terrorism overlook certain geographical areas

in The craft of writing in sociology
Andrew Balmer and Anne Murcott

vocabulary can, in some circumstances, carry very strong connotations of power. And, of course, selected words become ‘politically incorrect’, with objections raised if they are used. If using them cannot be avoided, reference may well be made euphemistically – for example, a journalist writing ‘the “n” word’ to evade quoting the reprehensible use of the old racial segregationist word ‘nigger’. All the same, members of the Black Power movement of the 1960s deliberately used the word ‘black’, to reclaim it from segregationist usage and proclaim that ‘black is beautiful

in The craft of writing in sociology
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

, 1990 : 7). As such, art might be judged by aesthetic principles or by the moral or political issues it raises, or any number of other criteria the art critic applies. Furthermore, while certain cultural institutions may be recognised as having the authority to determine what is and is not art, such definitions are not accepted by everyone. Concepts of art are also being challenged by the inclusion of research tools and technology that gainsay the notion of art as a static enduring object (Miller, 2014 ; Kac, 2007 ; Kemp, 2006 ). Miller reports on early

in Creative research communication