Helen Sword: Stylish Academic Writing

STYLISH ACADEMIC WRITING

by Helen Sword

Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $29.95 hb, 220 pp, 9780674064485

Dr Johnson wrote in his review of Soame Jenyns’s A Free Enquiry into the Nature of the Origin of Good and Evil: ‘The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.’ One could argue, in the context of contemporary scholarly writing, that increasingly the only end is to satisfy the evaluative demands of research councils and university administrators. The controversial use of quantitative publications figures, as in the 2012 Sydney University assessment of individual researchers, reflects the fact that scholarly behaviour, more than ever, is being shaped by the reward trail, one that is almost as dependent on where and how you publish as it is on the actual content.

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Published in October 2012 no. 345
Colin Steele

Colin Steele

Colin Steele is Emeritus Fellow of the Australian National University. A former University Librarian at ANU (1980–2002), he is the Convenor of the National Scholarly Communications Forum.

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