Thursday 28 February 2013

Do we choose what to read?

In my last post I wrote: "usually people choose to read what they read ...".  But is this true for academic literature?

Students only get limited choices in their reading -- choice increases the further one progresses but doctoral candidates still get reading lists imposed by supervisors.  And then professional academics -- do they get much choice?  Not really; researchers always have to stay 'up to date' in their areas of expertise, which makes any notable publications in these areas required reading.  The only choice anyone has is in areas of general interest where one can pick and choose and needn't read everything -- which is exactly the sort of reading that many students and academics seem hard pressed to find time for.

All of which means that academic writers are writing for a largely captive audience.  And this makes the moral importance of writing well is even more pressing.

Incidentally, as neither an academic nor a student I get to read whatever I like!