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Qualitative social scientists working in medical faculties have to meet multiple expectations. On the one hand, they are expected to comply with the philosophical and theoretical expectations of the social sciences. On the other hand, they may also be expected to produce publications which align with biomedical definitions and framings of quality. As interdisciplinary scholars, they must handle (at least) two sets of journal editors, peer reviewers, grant-awarding panels, and conference audiences. In this paper, we extend the current knowledge base on the 'dual expectations' challenge by drawing on Orlikowski and Yates' theoretical concept of communicative genres. A 'genre' in this context is a format of communication (e.g. letter, email, academic paper, and conference presentation) aimed at a particular audience, having a particular material form and socio-linguistic style, and governed by both formal requirements and unwritten social rules. Becoming a member of any community of practice involves becoming familiar with its accepted communicative genres and adept in using them. Academic writing, for example, is a craft that is learned through participation in the social process of communicating one's ideas to one's peers in journal articles and other formats. In this reflective paper, we show how the concept of a communicative genre can sensitise us to the conflicting and often dissonant expectations and rule systems governing different academic fields. We use this key concept to suggest ways in which the faculty can support early-career researchers to progress in careers which straddle qualitative social science and medical science.

Original publication




Journal article


Qual Health Res

Publication Date



academic writing, early-career researchers, genre, sociology, support