Daniel W. Drezner

On political science, policy, and writing

Your humble blogger was not kidding when he said he was on vacation. Furthermore, this isn’t one of those vacations where I can just hide away in my hotel room for hours on end, composing the kind of artisanal, hand-crafted blog posts that make feel Wittgensteinian and all. No, this is the kind of vacation ...

Your humble blogger was not kidding when he said he was on vacation. Furthermore, this isn’t one of those vacations where I can just hide away in my hotel room for hours on end, composing the kind of artisanal, hand-crafted blog posts that make feel Wittgensteinian and all. No, this is the kind of vacation where I can feel the disapproving eyes of my family on my hunched shoulders every time I look at my laptop. 

So, in the interest of making everyone happy, this week’s blog posts will be of the more old school, "Hey, read this!" kind of link-o-rama that Twitter has made quasi-obsiolete. For each day, I’ll focus on topics that revisit an old blog post of mine, to see if there’s anything new of interesting out there. 

Today:  the state of political science research and writing.

1) Greg Ferenstein, "Former Political Scientist to Congress:  Please Defund Political Science." The Atlantic. My take:  In all seriousness, about 85% of all political science research can pass the "mother in law test" — the question is whether political scientists are articulate enough to do this with their own research. 

2) Stephen Walt, "On writing well," Foreign Policy. My take: outsourced to Steve Saideman

3) Jay Ulfelder, "Why is Academic Writing so Bad? A Brief Response to Stephen Walt," Dart-Throwing Chimp. My take: um… yeah, Jay’s right. One caveat:  Writing for a general audience requires some genuine craft and care with one’s prose style, so those political scientists who want to write for a wider audience do need to care about the writing. Which leads to whispers and murmurs that if they write well, they’re not focusing enough on their research. Which leads to a vicious cycle of bad writing. 

4) Adam Elkus, "Relevant to Policy?" CNAS.  My take:  definitely worth a read, and an interesting counter to Ferenstein in particular. 

And now… time to unhunch my shoulders!!

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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