Paul Trowler: Stuff I've learned in writing, researching and teaching

Paul's CV can be found here:

TEL Session 2024

Some of these learning points are easier to implement towards the end of one’s career, admittedly…




Look for gaps

Sociology textbooks at A level – Topics in Sociology and Further Topics in Sociology


2010 - Need for a meta-study of student engagement.





Look for better, more creative, less engrooved, ways to do things

Active Sociology and the Sociology in Action series plus A level exam question 

Sociology in Action: 

Know your audience and write for them

Accessibility, concision and clear structure (“Dr. Bullet Point”). Create spaces for reflection and integration into audiences’ cognitive structures. Avoid prolixity in writing (and talking).


Stick to what you know

Couldn’t write for A level any more after moving from FE to HE


Get traction by using the tricks that politicians and advertisers do

Academic writing: Graphics, diagrams, catchy names, etc. Give the audience tags to remember and offer up things to quote.


Use Word’s outlining function and OneSearch Export RIS with Zotero



Create your own homepage, with an HTML file on OneDrive, for quick links, in different categories

Similar to bookmarks, but easy and quick to find, with keywords





Find your mission

…and then be the best (starting with your PhD)

Be the person they think of when they want a keynote on X topic.....or a chapter on X topic....or a journal special edition article.

Stick to your mission. Don’t get distracted by others’ agendas. Choose collaborators super-carefully!

Get used to saying no to invitations to do peripheral things: Book publishers, edit this and that etc.

...and remember there are a lot of exploitative 'publishers' etc out there...

Be selfish with your time – ask yourself “what’s in it for me?”

Greedy institutions (Coser, 1967; 1974) need to be resisted. HoD and the 4 year review “invitation”


Deal with institutional friction as best you can.


Don’t be a slave to multinational capitalism

Journals look like cottage industries but actually they are multi-billion pound industries.



Leads to other desired invitations – including around the world. Be judicious about what you do accept.

Paul’s CV -

Don’t get frustrated - Things don’t happen in a linear way, or quickly.

Happenstance and serendipity – it takes time. “Impact” is seductive but misleading.






Use technology and different media creatively (Camtasia + Audacity + VLC are your friends…..)


(and know your audience, again!)

Amazon, AI, Xerte, (Xerte page types),  QR codes, Blended resources.





(QR Code = Flipbook for AI Prompts….Or see flipbook below) (Index of Xerte resources for chapters – or see alternative version below this table)


Use numbers and create them, but remember that it’s people that matter

H index etc to attract good doctoral researchers


Don’t take feedback and suggestions too literally

…be judicious and realistic (EDS846 on HEREE)


Keep up to date with teaching and writing tools available.

For example the JSTOR text analyser or the development in Xerte and AI

Remember 4 key principles of pedagogy.

1. Provide a good map of the field.

2. Develop activities for engagement so that new knowledge is integrated into cognitive framework.

3. Provide safe egalitarian spaces to practise using new terms and concepts.

4. Focus on what learners are doing, not on the knowledge being 'transmitted'.