Our books

Our books are of two types. One type is intended for students doing research, whether on a PhD or as part of a taught course. The other is about research in practice, describing our own work.

Support for students doing research

Our most popular book is The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research, by Gordon Rugg and Marian Petre. This is now in its third edition. It’s about important issues that most other books and training courses don’t mention, usually because of a mistaken assumption that the students surely must know these things already. This book goes through the PhD process from the very beginning (Could I even do a PhD?) to the very end (preparing for the sort of post-PhD career that you would love). It’s written in deliberately informal language; it explains the reasons for each piece of guidance (you do it this way because this demonstrates that you know X). There’s more about it here.

A Gentle Guide to Research Methods, also by Gordon and Marian, contains tutorials on a range of methods for doing research involving human beings. The methods include usual suspects such as observation, plus methods that are not as widely known as they should be, such as card sorts (useful for finding out which features of a product or situation are important to people) and laddering (useful for finding out why a particular feature is important to people). There is also a section on how to choose the appropriate combination of methods for your needs.

Using Statistics: A Gentle Introduction is by Gordon. It explains the ways in which statistics allow you to answer different types of research questions, starting with the most simple types of statistics, and proceeding through to more complex forms. It includes a section on forms of analysis beyond traditional statistics, including different versions of measurement theory from the version traditionally used in statistics.

The Stress-Free Guide to Studying at University is by Gordon Rugg, Sue Gerrard and our colleague Susie Hooper. It’s primarily about preventing, reducing and handling stress when you’re a student, rather than about studying at university. A key feature of this book is that it explains how to avoid and reduce stress by understanding how the academic system works, so that you can reduce the number of stressful situations you get into.



Our own research

Gordon’s book Blind Spot, co-authored with Joe D’Agnese, tells the story of how Gordon and Sue and colleagues put together a body of work about why people find it difficult or impossible to explain some of their knowledge in words. Jo Hyde and Gordon then spotted a way of extending this work to spot errors in expert reasoning about difficult problems.

Gordon tested this approach on a problem that had defeated the world’s best codebreakers, a mysterious centuries-old manuscript that nobody had ever been able to decipher or explain satisfactorily, and within weeks found a solution that previous researchers had missed.

Blind Spot describes this approach, and describes techniques that anyone can use to spot errors, and to reduce the chances of making errors.


Rugg, G. & Petre, M. (2020). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (3rd Edition). Open University Press, London.

Rugg, G. & D’Agnese, J. (2013). Blind Spot. HarperOne.

Petre, M. & Rugg, G., (2010). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (2nd Edition). Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead.

Rugg, G., Gerrard, S. & Hooper, S. (2008). The Stress-Free Guide to Studying at University. Sage Publishing.

Rugg, G. (2007). Using Statistics: A Gentle Introduction. Open University Press/McGraw-Hill Education.

Rugg, G. & Petre, M. (2006). A Gentle Guide to Research Methods. Open University Press.

Rugg, G. & Petre, M. (2004). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research. Open University Press, Maidenhead.

Material on this website is copyright of Hyde & Rugg unless otherwise stated.