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November 27 , 2010

The Handbook of Political Behavior

Volume 4


In the writing of prefaces for works of this sort, most editors report being faced with similar challenges and have much in common in relating how these challenges are met. They acknowledge that their paramount ob­ jective is to provide more than an overview of topics but rather to offer selective critical reviews that will serve to advance theory and research in the particular area reviewed. The question of the appropriate audience to be addressed is usually answered by directing material to a potential audience of social scientists, graduate students, and, occasionally, ad­ vanced undergraduate students. Editors who are confronted with the problem of structuring their material often explore various means by which their social science discipline might be subdivided, then generally conclude that no particular classification strategy is superior. In elabo­ rating on the process by which the enterprise was initiated, editors typ­ ically resort to a panel of luminaries, who provide independent support for the idea and then offer both suggestions for topics and the authors who will write them. Editors usually concede that chapter topics and content do not reflect their original conception but are a compromise between their wishes and the authors' expertise and capabilities. Editors report that inevitable delays occur, authors drop out of projects and are replaced, and new topics are introduced. Finally, editors frequently con­ fess that the final product is incomplete, with gaps occurring because of failed commitments by authors or because authors could not be secured to write certain chapters.
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