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Useful Resources

Here we have listed our favourite texts on doctoral writing. We invite you to help grow the list by adding comments and recommending other good reads.


In selecting my five favourites I went for diversity (and then one more!). They are in no particular order.

Paltridge, B., & Starfield, S. (2007). Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language: A handbook for supervisors. Oxon: Routledge.

As a teaching resource this is probably the most well used book in my library. I return to it time and time again because it provides me with the confidence to say ‘research shows that this is a common pattern in thesis writing’. That’s really important for me. This use of empirical evidence makes the book stand out from the crowd – it’s so unlike those other writing advice books.

Hemmings, B., & Kay, R. (2010). University lecturer publication output: qualifications, time and confidence count. Journal of higher education policy and management, 32(2), 185 – 197. (see DoctoralwritingSIG Mendeley)

I found this a very good launching pad for a workshop I do on publishing. It provides a context that helps explain who in our institutions is publishing, and why. I’ve only ever used it as a reference to inform my work – not as a teaching resource as it stands. Both doctoral students and academics have found the research informative.

Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks a guide to academic publishing Thousand Oaks, USA: SAGE.

Despite the title which I found offputting (echoes of those old ‘how-to’ popular mechanics magazines) I discovered this was an incredibly useful book. Partly rewarding because it covered, far more systematically and eloquently, things I was already doing, and partly disheartening because I thought I was doing something special – alas, no!

Richardson, L. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.

Although this is now quite old, I return to it frequently when I am teaching ‘voice’ in academic writing and particularly when I’m working with qualitative researchers who are struggling to write about their data. It’s a beauty.

Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2006). Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision. Oxon: Routledge.

A wonderful book; easy to read with thoughtful and timeless reflections on how to facilitate a writing rich doctoral experience. I use it for teaching inspiration and also in my own writing and research.

Zerubavel, E. (1999). The clockwork muse: A practical guide to writing theses. Harvard, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

An oldie but a goldie. This is a fabulously useful book to help writers see how to manage their time and their writing productivity by establishing routines to enrich their writing lives. It’s fun and a quick and easy read.


I’d like to second Claire’s vote for Kamler & Thomson’s book, which is full of useful information and ideas. Here are a few more items that I use to address some specific issues in writing workshops.

Boote, D.N., & Beile, P. (2005) Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.

I like this one for getting students to think about how a literature review might be assessed. It helps them to focus on what the reader (i.e., examiner) needs to see.

McLean, M. (2010) Argumentation and the doctoral thesis. In P. Thomson & M. Walker (eds), The Routledge Doctoral Student’s Companion. London & NY: Routledge.

This has some nice, straight forward ideas about how to encourage students to think about the complexities of argumentation.

Hirvela, A.,  & Belcher,  D. (2001) Coming back to voice: The multiple voices and identities of mature multilingual writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 83-106.

Ivanic, R., & Camps, D. (2001) I am how I sound: Voice as self-representation in L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 3-33.

I’ve been thinking about voice in academic writing lately, and these are two really helpful articles from a special issue on voice. The literature on EAL (English as an Additional Language) writers is helpful for identifying issues that native speakers also sometimes struggle with.

Cargill, M., & O’Connor, P. (2009)  Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps. Oxford UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

This is a wonderfully practical book that works through the whole process of writing scientific articles. It has some extra advice for EAL writers, but it useful for everyone; while it focuses on scientific writing, much of the advice can be applied across all disciplines.


The following three books tackle the process and dimensions of academic writing, acknowledging the personal: construction of voice and academic identity, emotions around writing, and the socially constructed nature of doctoral writing’s various negotiations. They critique doctoral pedagogy concerning writing, providing a critical ‘reading’ of writing practice, concerned that some of the social practices that sustain it are often treated as if they were neutral and inert. These are helpful books for writers. Beautifully written, and dissective, these are also highly quotable books if you are interested in thinking and writing about writing.

Aitchison, Claire, Barbara Kamler and Alison Lee (2010). Publishing pedagogies for the doctorate and beyond, Routledge

Kamler, Barbara (2001) Relocating the personal: A critical writing pedagogy, State University of New York Press.

Kamler, Barbara and Pat Thomson. (2006) Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision, Routledge

Murray, Rowena, How to write a thesis (2011) 3rd Edition, Open University Press.
Murray’s handbook enables writing to be developed as a skill integral to thinking. This does not mean that she engages particularly with the entanglement of authorship and academic identity: there is a pragmatic workerly approach to busting through writer’s block, writing in various styles and mediums, recognizing barriers as predictable hurdles to be overcome, and building the psychological musculature to be able to write 1,000 words an hour.

Paltridge, Brian and Sue Starfield. (2007) Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language: A handbook for supervisors, Routledge
Although this book advertises its audience as supervisors, it is an incredibly helpful one for all thesis writers, including ones whose first language is English, because it spells out in clear concrete terms the generic expectations of the thesis. It draws on Swales and Feak for the ‘moves’ each section of the thesis should make, for example, explaining pragmatically the kinds of markers that guide examiners to recognising this as a legitimate thesis. It also discusses word choice, tense etc. again with tangible examples likely to reinspire jaded writers. Its demystification is helpful to many including those writing a doctoral thesis in a second or third language. See at


3 thoughts on “Resources”

  1. This is an excellent resource and v handy to have a link to share with people. I’ll be putting a link to your blog in the email I send new supervisors and I’ll encourage students to read it too.

  2. Averil Martin said:

    Loved the resources and have been sharing the link with colleagues. I would also like to add this text. It’s very practical and researchers and supervisors I’ve recommended it to have really appreciated the advice and style of the book.

    Booth, Colomb & Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research (3rd ed.). University Press of Chicago.

    This is very helpful for new researchers. It provides a really practical tool for finding topics and narrowing the focus. It also gives very practical advice about the writing process and handling the supervisory relationship.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Averil – and for including the handy link. I’ve already checked it out online and have ordered a copy from our library. Can’t wait to get my hands on it; it looks useful for a workshop I offer on writing about data for qualitative researchers. Cheers, Claire

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