Best research writing books for when you are in a rut

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inspirational research books

As my tenure clock increasingly ticked louder I found myself hating research more and increasingly feeling like an imposter. I had so many ideas for research, a number of projects on the go and had even data collected for 3 projects. I just couldn’t move forward. I went in search of resources to help me move past this growing block. I was on a journey to find my love of academia and in particular research. The following list is books that I found that are less about how to do research and more about how to become a researcher/writer. They deal with impostor syndrome, mindset, blocks, creativity, and practice. I’ve added links for each to Amazon but don’t forget to check your library to see if they have a copy.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no extra cost to you I will receive an affiliate commission.

ME with the books that are helping me to get out of my research rut

Air & Light & Time & Space

When I read the preface of this book I knew it was what I was looking for. The understanding of how I was feeling ‘ crushed under the weight of expectations’ (pg. ix) and my own voice constantly telling me to ‘stop whining; just get on with it’ (pg. x). The book provides a flexible, customizable building plan intended to help you design your own writing practice from the ground up’ (pg. x). I love that this book focuses on success being both publication rates and the art of research (e.g. craftsmanship, collegiality, pride and even joy). In this book, Sword takes a holistic and inclusive view of what research success is. It was so refreshing to read. Get your copy from Amazon here.

Doing Your Research Project

This book is more traditional ‘how to do research’ but the first chapter helped me to put research back into perspective. After years of increasingly thinking of research as the number of publications I had, it was refreshing to strip that away and get back to why I got into research in the first place. Research is ‘actually quite exciting; (pg. 2). It is your opportunity to ‘ make a contribution’ (pg. 3). While this book is really aimed at those new to research I found great value in hitting refresh 5 years after graduating from my PhD program. Chapter 3 reminded me that it is normal for researchers to question the process and to lose motivation along the way. The reminder that ‘completing a research project in good time is much more than a test of your intellectual ability; it is also a test of your persistence and tenacity’ (pg. 20). I recommend this book for PhD students just starting out and ECR who want to hit reset and build themselves back up. Available on Amazon here.

Becoming an Academic Writer

Becoming an Academic Writer includes 50 exercises for paced, productive, and powerful writing. It is the most hands-on of these books and is great to get to into the practice of writing. This book focuses on improving your writing quality and productivity through practice. I felt like it was a little slow at first because I just wanted to get a publication, however, as I do more and read the other books on this list I feel myself shift into a better mindset and I have begun focusing on the process not the outcome. I haven’t got through many of the activities yet but I’m looking forward to seeing how they will help me too. Available on Amazon here.

Big Magic

This book isn’t aimed at academic writers but when I listen to Big Magic I was inspired. It reminded me why I got into this career in the first place. Academia puts so much pressure on publishing or perishing and this book reminded me that it is okay to fail and that writing is about creativity. I actually listened to the audiobook (click here for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Audible that includes 2 free audiobooks), it is also available in hard and soft copy on Amazon.

What book/s would you add to this list?

Do you have any go-to inspiring books on doing research/writing that I should add to this list? Leave me a comment so that I can check it out and add it to this list to help more people rekindle their passion for research.

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