To write or not to write?

While E prepares to head off into the big wide yonder (aka "the Midwest") for the weekend, I am left to reassure our PTSD reader(s) that posting, despite the end of the World Cup (and the not-yet-start of the Premiership), will continue.

Getting back to academia for a bit, there's a topic that I've wanted to bring up for quite a while. As a postgraduate student, slogging away (or pretending to) on our own works, do we email Eminent Professors if we have questions or comments about their work?

Yesterday, I was going through the list of publications of an author whose work I find extremely useful for its clear descriptions of how knowledge is legitimised and communicated. How could I not like somebody who writes,

"...this [his book] is not a work of philosophy...I am not trying to resolve classic philosophical disputes...I am certainly not trying to answer ontological questions about what sorts of things exist. The focus is on the way people construct descriptions as factual, and how others undermine those constructions. This does not require an answer to the philosophical question of what factuality is."*

On his web site, I found that he'd written a new article, which was listed only as "forthcoming". Thinking that I might as well try get away with a bit of cheek, I emailed him, asking for a copy of the article. I was hugely surprised to receive a response a few hours later, with the article attached as well as another out-of-print article which I'd said I'd not been able to find.

So, I guess that's my question: do academics/published people/writers like being emailed about their work and do they (usually) reply? So far, my success rate has been hovering around 90% but I haven't emailed many people. All the people who have written back have been quite nice about letting me use their work (pictures of Northern Irish murals) or, as in this case, even sending me their articles. However, I can see that, for a busy scholar, getting loads of emails asking for articles or telling them that their analysis of X is perhaps misguided is not what they want in their inboxes.

* This is, of course, a rather clever rhetorical move.


At 7/28/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Genealogy Spice said...

My experience: it generally works (shock ;-)!) Hence my general insistence that we should be chatting more with folks who have Ph.Ds and/or whose work spurs our thinking.

At 7/28/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Thanks! It's always good to hear of/from folks more experienced at this than me and to get your views :-)

At 8/01/2006 8:28 AM, Anonymous serena said...

that's interesting...but shouldn't they be excited that their works are well-read??


Post a Comment

<< Home