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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite continued appeals by funding bodies, universities, and academy-based professional organizations to engage in knowledge mobilization, few academic researchers have made convincing and sustained efforts to dismantle the existing dominant power architecture that orders and organizes professional merit hierarchies along the lines of publication prestige (as indicated by the reputation of publishers) rather than on the basis of readership size or publication impact. The authors encourage more academics to write for a broader public audience. After highlighting a few common reasons why so much academic writing fails to engage readers beyond specialist audiences, the authors turn to the stories of five academic writers whose books have reached hundreds of thousands of people. These five books were selected because they were published within the last 10 years, were widely read, and were based in a qualitative, ethnographic research approach. Because they wished to reflect on the unique conditions shaping work within institutions of higher education, the authors excluded journalists and professional writers and included only university faculty. The authors interviewed these five authors, asking them about their writing styles, their publication-related experiences, and the production and distribution processes of their work.

Keywords: ethnography, field research, qualitative research, audiences, bestselling books, public scholarship, public sociology

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