Academic courtesies and acknowledgments

Social media: an encounter on ‘what makes writing academic’

In this post, I wish to specifically acknowledge my interactions with Thomas Basboell who has often taken me up and challenged me on what I post on this blog, on what I tweet, and on what I comment on when he writes his posts (all available here).

Both Thomas and myself are somewhat ‘nerdy’ about academic writing, although I think we might be at opposite ends of the ‘spectrum’ (so-to-speak, and pun intended). Despite this, I am grateful to him for responding to my ramblings on writing.

Conversation Prism

I embraced social media when I started my part-time PhD in 2013 having never engaged with social media before (Facebook etc. remain redundant for me, whereas Twitter, Academia Edu., and WordPress have been and continue to be significant resources for my thinking, my research and my teaching). I am, therefore, relatively new to it, but I feel like I have taken to social media like a duck to water. It has become an extension of my thinking, I continue tailoring it to my needs, and I rely on the updates and notifications I have set up.

Needless to say (but I will say it anyway), I have never met Thomas in real life. He could be an algorithm for all I know. My first encounter with him was here, on Pat Thomson’s blog, on the relationship between thinking and writing. Since then, he has missed few opportunities to pick me up on my views about academic writing!

A few weeks ago, Thomas and I got into a dispute about a text which I argued was ‘academic’ and which he argued wasn’t. The text can be found here; it is a sociological paper on the messiness of research and the difficulty of doing methodological justice to the complexities of social reality. If anybody is interested in our débâcle, it starts with comments I made on Thomas’ post here:


and carries on in chronological order here:


Basically, Thomas went to the trouble of re-writing the introduction of the text (written by John Law) to show how it should look. I haven’t yet fully engaged with Thomas’ edit, but I will because it will allow me to address and articulate some of the themes I am dealing with in my PhD, namely ‘what makes writing academic’.

All I will say, for now, is that, predictably, I disagree with Thomas. He is taking a break from the Internet until Easter so hopefully I have a little more time to gather my thoughts … (to be cont.)