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date: 18 January 2021

(p. xiii) Preface

(p. xiii) Preface

The Oxford Handbook of Methods for Public Scholarship presents the first comprehensive overview of methods for public scholarship. Public scholarship has always existed, to some extent, but has become the focus of debate over the past 25 years. Most simply, public scholarship is that which is available outside of the academy. Lay citizens have access to public scholarship because it circulates in spaces to which they have access and it’s understandable. Public scholarship isn’t merely available to the public or some segment of it, but it’s also useful to them. Optimally, public scholarship explicitly addresses public needs. Some argue public scholarship should address publicly identified needs. By involving stakeholders in the entire process, and making the findings accessible, public scholars contribute to the democratization of research. Taking all of this into account, I suggest public scholarship can be defined as scholarship that circulates outside of the academy in accessible formats and is useful to relevant stakeholders (who may or may not directly participate in shaping research agendas).

In order to do public scholarship, researchers need methodological tools. That’s the purpose of this handbook, to provide methodological instruction for engaging in public scholarship. Filled with robust examples from real-world research in different fields, ample discussion of working with nonacademic stakeholders, coverage of traditional methods, or engaging in emergent methods, as well as coverage of key issues like writing, publicity, and funding, The Oxford Handbook of Methods for Public Scholarship aims to be a valuable text for students, professors, and researchers.

The field of public scholarship and methods for engaging in public scholarship is so broad that no book, even a handbook, can cover everything, certainly not to all readers’ satisfaction. I didn’t even attempt to cover it all. Rather, my hope is that because the contributors offer both specific tools and general inspiration for modifying or creating other methods, the contents of the handbook will support you on your own research journey. I should also note that there are some topics I would have liked to include; however, due to unforeseen circumstances, some authors pulled out at the last minute. After many years of working on this handbook, I decided to live with the omissions knowing that we could never cover it all anyway. My hope is that the handbook will be useful in the teaching and practice of research methods, public sociology, and public scholarship to those with little to no background in the subject, while still providing substantive contributions to the field that will be of interest to even the most experienced researchers. While some chapters focus on timely issues, the overall content should assist emerging and experienced public scholars for many years to come.

Patricia Leavy