A daughter’s interest in monographs spurred her mother to learn more than she ever thought she needed to about this declining literary form. This interesting information came to us from Against the Grain in their article, “Reading and Writing Monographs: the Dual Role of Researchers and the Demand for Dual Formats.”
The long-form scholarly monograph is defined as a “book-length work of scholarship that treats a relatively narrow topic in great detail.” Despite the decreasing interest in monographs overall, doctoral students in the social sciences program at the European University Institute in Fiesole, Italy responded to the author’s inquiry showing much passion for the monograph.
When asked how important books were to their research, with respect to other forms of scholarly communication, there was consensus that monographs are absolutely essential to their work. One student offered, “As a sociologist, I need to understand the methodological approach of a study, so the appendices are, of course, important, but I also look at the actual narrative, or progression of the author’s argument from its presentation and development to its resolution.”
With regards to digital vs. paper and how they approach monographs, their preference for monographs may not always affect their actual use of them. One of the students put it best, “One of the problems with academia today — we just have no time to read monographs, but at the same time you are expected to publish one. There is such a vast amount of literature, and you are expected to have a certain understanding of the main monographs being published in your field and to keep up with the general literature as well, but it is impossible to read it all!”
Melody K. Smith
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