Is there a (text)book on how academia works?

I agree that it looks like a shopping request as its current form, but it is stemmed from the question "how to have a systematic understanding on how science and academia work (without having to browse Academia.SE too much)?", and I don't think that is of any off-topic reason. Isn't looking for a research field about academia and/or science will give me a systematic understanding on them? It's also hard to ask questions on science and academia separately since they are convoluted and I want to have a broadest view first.

  • By stating your specific requirements. For a similar discussion, see: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21514/… Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 13:56
  • I agree that in principle a book request should have specific requirements. But would it be a catch-22 if the OP is required to list what they're looking for when what they're looking for is to know what they're looking for?
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:34
  • 1
    I don't think it is a catch-22. If you don't know what you need, how can anyone else help you? The question would then evolve about how to find out what you actually want/need? People can always give more context, what they already know, what their background is, what they expect, .... All these things would enable the answers to be actually useful. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 15:11
  • @Trilarion I agree. It just that I've seen many book requests that only merely ask what books to learn X. I know that they can provide more information, but it seems that everyone sees them clear enough
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 17:04
  • I'm not sure they see them clear enough. We have no control how much the recommendation really helped. In the worst case we just get popularity contests/polls about recommended resources. Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Trilarion doesn't the vote number reflect how the question helps? At least in Math and Physics, I see reference requests are always in wiki posts
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 19:26

2 Answers 2


Perhaps we need to carve out an exception for books on the practice of academia, since that is (usually) an on-topic discussion here.

  • 1
    I agree and I'd add to the exception also books about the history of academia. Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 17:15
  • And research fields too?
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 19:46
  • 1
    @Ooker No, research fields no: there are specific SE communities for many fields, so better ask there, taking into account that they might have different rules about reference requests. Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 20:12
  • I think anything that is a reference request for a reference regarding this site’s topic should be an exception.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 20:43
  • @MassimoOrtolano sorry, I should have been clearer. What I mean is the fields, areas, branches that related to the study of science/academia exclusively. For example in my question you can meet several fields/branches such as "science studies", "sociology/history/anthropology/philology of science". I can even invent more terms like "political academia, interstellar academia"...
    – Ooker
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 23:02
  • I disagree. A shopping question about good sources to learn about science is still not a good fit.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 12:06

Asking for a textbook on how science works is too broad. There is lots that has been published on that subject, and it's not clear how to narrow down among them.

Asking for a textbook on how academia or science works is even broader. Asking how academia works is quite different from asking how science works, so you shouldn't ask for both in a single question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .