The Open Book is a radical genre blend: it is an experimental co-memoir exploring the role of writing in academia. It contains stories about life without censoring and without distinguishing between traditional work/life domains and academic/non-academic ways of writing. This is done through discussions of conferences, research collaborations, supervision, taboo pleasures of ‘fun’ writing projects, the temptations of other work, and the everyday life encounters and experiences that stimulate academic thought and writing. Some of the main characters you will meet are researchers, their colleagues and students, sons and daughters, mothers and grandmothers, husbands (past and present), supervisors, pets, old and new friends, and creatures from myths and dreams. Some of the settings include kitchens, fireplaces, couches, gardens, universities, cars, and trains. These characters and places are all there to help examine what the above elements of an ordinary human life might mean
in research and
for research. Thus, it becomes possible for you as a reader to recognize the stories as both truly human and genuinely academic. This is the first book in a series of publications and projects from the Open Writing Community: a collaboration of academics from different disciplines and countries that seeks to push the boundaries of how we understand and practice academic work and writing.
Analytical autoethnography is a methodology that synthesises autobiography and social critique in order to resist, and also change, dominant authoritative discourse. Evidence from the author’s autobiographical experiences and data from interviews with a variety of academics have been thematically analysed to inform a short autoethnodrama set in a university on the UK. The autoethnodrama considers the ‘impact’ of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and current such exercises, and the possible and real effects of the pressure to ‘publish or perish’ on institutional culture and individual lives. The author uses the autoethnodrama to identify staff development strategies that offer the potential for a less stressful academic writing process and democratic university environment including mentoring and other explicit institutional support. The process of producing this work is part of an emerging trend in academic research that seeks to further democratise conventional academic writing processes and progress the case for a more inclusive and expansive approach to academic writing and academic life.