Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article
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Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Students and researchers all write under pressure, and those pressures—most lamentably, the desire to impress your audience rather than to communicate with them—often lead to pretentious prose, academic posturing, and, not infrequently, writer’s block.Sociologist Howard S. Becker has written the classic book on how to conquer these pressures and simply write. First publish...more
Kindle Edition, Second Edition, 220 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1986)
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I read Howard Becker's Art Worlds and a few of his articles in graduate school. He was one of the sociologists who wrote well, but I didn't honestly notice it so much at the time. Possibly I was too earnestly trying to master the theoretical arguments back then. In my experience, it is only after you slow down and get used to reading again for pleasure that you realize how poorly most scholars write, especially sociologists. That is why it is inspiring to pick up this book about how to write wel...more
While this book was written in 1986 and some of the chapters are slightly dated, I still found this book to be pretty useful. It's not a book about how to write the most elegant paragraph; Becker (and the various chapter authors) help you to get past the crap and get to work. Of particular use to me were the sections on "Risk" and "Getting it out the door."
Ben Kraal
Yes. This. So good.
Victor Barger
Mar 19, 2009 Victor Barger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Academics in the social sciences
Shelves: writing, academia
Writing for Social Scientists by Howard Becker is much more than a guide to writing; it is a guide to becoming a prolific (and thus successful) academic. Whereas many books on writing focus on style and grammar, Becker takes a broader view, covering everything from the writing process ("writing is a form of thinking") to common pitfalls (the "One Right Way") to writing's place in research (think "working draft"). Becker illustrates his ideas with examples from his career as a professor of sociol...more
I didn't find this book particularly useful. It contained some good points about writing, but for the most part it just felt self-indulgent on the author's part - almost like a memoir. Too many personal anecdotes for my liking. The good parts could be distilled into a booklet or long article.
Danu Poyner
This is a must-read for anyone who has to write as part of making a living. It is about the habits and rituals of writing – the act of writing – as much as content or style. Whether you think you write well already or whether you think writing is something you'll never do well, Becker has something to say to you. It has already changed my life.
Elena Tudor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's a book on writing that's actually enjoyable. What more do you want? Howard Becker has an enjoyable voice and fantastic advice on avoiding dull, leaden prose. This is geared more to those writing in academia, especially in the social sciences - but most academic writers could take a page (or five or ten or a few chapters, or even the whole darn thing) from Becker's book. When it comes to getting it out the door, his advice is invaluable.

Now, I should go back to editing my own manuscript, so...more
I took a class on writing for the social sciences (it was in our Sociology department) and this was the main text that we used. I enjoyed Becker's style and he makes excellent points throughout the book. If you're an undergraduate or graduate student who struggles with your writing (procrastination, fear of being judged, wordy sentences, etc.), I highly suggest you read this book.
This book was really helpful to me in finishing my thesis, as all of my colleagues who have had the misfortune of listening to me quoting it all year can attest. It addresses many of the points of anxiety for grad students trying to write their first academic works. I highly recommend it to any scholar at the beginning of their writing career.
Harry Fulgencio
I enjoyed reading this book a lot, very simple (with words but packed with good advice) and handy for researchers/authors. My favorites advice is to try and find people whom you trust to do the initial reading of your draft whom you feel comfortable receiving criticisms.
Really useful just to determine normalizing behaviour. Realized my obsession with using only black ink in a brand new Moleskine isn't that weird. Good for motivation.
It´s the second book I read and I he achieves to create more confident in the social writting. He´s one of the best researchers and social teachers of all our times.
It was an assigned reading for a class, but I truly enjoyed it. It is really about how to write clearly and not pretentious, pompous, obscure, or "classy."
Andreas Jungherr
A helpful book about the travails of academic writing. Especially strong on the social circumstances and constraints academics of to write or "type" in.
Waste of time. Unfortunatelly I had to read it for one course. Few things were useful, but those could be written in 5 sentences and not in the whole book.
This is more than merely a book about how to write. It is a personal attempt to understand why academic writing is so damn hard.
I have a bittersweet sense that I'm going to be rereading parts of this book for many years to come.
I love how this book was written. I didn't feel like I was reading yet another school book.
Becker makes writing understandable and enjoyable for the struggling graduate student.
Great resource for reworking how one thinks about writing and for getting past barriers.
Andrew Mccormick
Good basic writing skills. Helps one accept the reality of re-writing!
have you considered writing a lot, then editing?
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