I’m working on the second edition of Research and Evaluation for Busy Practitioners: A Time-Saving Guide. This was my first full-length research methods book, published by Policy Press in 2012, and it’s ready for an update. I’ve never worked on a second edition before and it’s an interesting process. One of the problems I had with the first edition was that the typescript review was not at all helpful – just half a page of text with only one point that I ended up implementing. That was frustrating at the time. I wanted more input this time around, and my lovely publisher agreed that this would be a good idea.
First they asked for a couple of unstructured pre-proposal reviews from people currently using the book. One was half a page and the other was 2.5 pages, and they were both helpful, with a useful balance of praise and constructive criticism. Of course authors need praise like plants need water, but also it’s handy when revising work to know which aspects I don’t need to worry about.
My next job was to write a proposal for the second edition, saying why I thought there was a need for a new edition, and what the key features of the new edition would be. This went out to five reviewers for structured responses, which again were very helpful and balanced. All seven reviewers had lots of ideas – two full pages of bullet points when I compiled them into a Word document – to add to the ideas I’d already had myself, and some that readers and reviewers had contributed after the first edition came out.
The second edition will be around 10,000 words longer than the first, with a whole new chapter on research approaches and methodologies. I can’t quite believe that didn’t go in the first edition! One of the main criticisms I received from the reviewers, which was also made in some of the published reviews when the book came out, was that while the book has ‘evaluation’ in the title, there is only one mention of evaluation in the text. That is not in fact the case, though it is what the index says. In 2012, when the first edition came out, I didn’t know how to check an index. I have more idea now! Evaluation is threaded through the text: for example, in the introductory chapter it is referred to seven times, on pages 1, 5, 6 (three times), 9, and 11. This time I will be making sure that evaluation is fully covered in the index, and that it appears in the contents list – another mistake we made. This is partly because the contents list only includes the chapter titles, and it’s easy to miss out the word ‘evaluation’ at that level, because you can’t say ‘research and evaluation’ every single time or it becomes very wearing for your readers. (I was comforted to find that other books have the same problem, e.g. the new edition of Michael Quinn Patton‘s Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods – though that book does have a full indexing of ‘evaluation’.)
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to recapture the ‘voice’ of Research and Evaluation for Busy Practitioners. The voice of Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences was very different. But I started writing yesterday and it came straight back, as familiar as the voice of an old friend. I have a lot of work to do, but it’s work I love, and I’m excited about it, because I think I can make a good book better.