Writing and presenting research
Article first published online: 7 JUN 2007
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 31, Issue 3, page 294, June 2007
How to Cite
(2007), Writing and presenting research. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 31: 294. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842X.2007.00071.x
- Issue published online: 7 JUN 2007
- Article first published online: 7 JUN 2007
By AngelaThody . Published by Sage Publications , London , 2006 . Paperback, 264 pages with index. RRP $64 . ISBN 1 4129 0293 2 .
Reviewed by Mary-Lou Fleming, School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland
This is an interesting book that presents its content in a slightly different structure to the normal organisation of material in a book about writing and presenting research. Author Angela Thody is an academic with many years of experience in writing, student supervision, teaching, research and presenting using a variety of formats. She is Emerita Professor at the International Institute of Educational Leadership, University of Lincoln. At the end of the book she outlines a range of factors that shaped and guided the development of the book.
A content overview provides all of the chapters and the bibliography at a glance on two pages with a brief comment or series of questions for each chapter. This format provides an easy guide to the material. There are five main parts to Writing and presenting research– preparation, selection and reduction, production, publication and valediction. The author argues that while there are several publications about the practice of research and research methods, there has been limited attention to the “importance of the words in reporting research results”. This book has a focus on this latter element.
In the first chapter, the author addresses the issue of conventional and alternative formats for writing and then goes on to discuss the principles for selecting appropriate writing and presentation styles. The remainder of the book follows a fairly standard format that includes knowing the audience, all of the issues one needs to consider in presenting data, and the process of getting published. In this second last chapter, the author discusses her aims in writing the book. These aims include making people aware of the significance of and to contribute to the debate on writing and presenting, the writing of an introductory guide, and the demonstration through writing and presenting of an individual's ability to influence others. The final chapter is an epilogue with a brief review of how modernists and postmodernists see research writing and presentation.
Throughout the book there are tables and figures and quite a number of reflection boxes that ask the reader to think about application for them of the issue being discussed. In addition, there are many boxes and other visuals designed to focus attention on the major themes or issues under discussion. At times, the reader is almost overwhelmed by the range of presentation styles, boxes and dot points that are scattered throughout the text. While it is evident that this approach is designed to engage the reader in a personal dialogue with the content, it does at times dissipate the focus of quite a few of the chapters. The language used is simple and meaningful and avoids jargon. Many of the references were published in the late 1990s and into the 2000s with a few ‘oldies but goldies’ used appropriately in the text.
While Thody suggests that the book would be useful for academics and students presenting research in the social sciences (including health) and a range of other disciplines, the book would seem far more useful for beginning academics and students regardless of discipline background. There are very few health examples in the text but there are a great variety of examples used from a range of disciplines to illustrate particular points.
This book is clearly not specifically a public health book but the issues addressed are generic enough to apply to a wide diversity of discipline areas. The strength of the book is its ability to present both the art and the craft of writing and presenting through a range of different media. There is a clear attempt by the author to make the book interactive and to have the reader engage with the material. The book is not too lengthy and is presented in an interesting style for a range of academic disciplines. Despite some minor criticisms, it is a useful reference book for people who are engaged in the process of writing and presenting research. It addresses the fundamental issues along the journey to publication and discusses the range of publication formats available to the academic or student. It could be usefully recommended to students in particular or to academics who are at the beginning of their journey through the world of alternative possibilities for reporting research.