Is it worth writing textbooks?

David Beer reflects on his experience of writing a textbook and links to a discussion in the Times Higher Education.

Thinking culture

A few times recently I’ve heard some discussion of textbook writing. The underlying question always seems to be whether or not it is worth writing a textbook. You can understand the hesitation. The barriers are fairly obvious. Textbooks are clearly not seen to be of any value in research assessment exercises. As a result the worry is that they will take up valuable time in which they might be working on something that is seen to be of more value. This is one of those outcomes of the measurement of research that gets little attention, and its a real shame that this type of restriction is placed upon the type of writing people do – especially when it might have important outcomes for the development of disciplines and teaching. Beyond this concern, there are often other worries that emerge around time management, maintaining enthusiasm, managing to be comprehensive enough, the…

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