Philip Guo (Phil Guo, Philip J. Guo, Philip Jia Guo, pgbovine)

PG Vlog #192 - the soul of a research paper

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Second, and more surprising to me: Most papers simply lacked a soul—a compelling and well-articulated reason to exist. The world (including the world of education) faces an extraordinary number of problems, challenges, dilemmas, and even mysteries. Yet most papers failed to make a good case for why they were necessary. Many analyses were not well motivated or informed by existing theory, evidence, or debates. Many authors took for granted that readers would see the importance of their chosen topic, and failed to connect their work to related issues, ideas, or discussions. Over and over again, I kept asking myself (and reviewers also often asked): So what?

I gradually came to understand that (1) many authors just hadn't yet fully thought through the "so what?" questions and (2) many authors were submitting papers long before they had fully worked through crucial issues related to research design, quality of evidence, and coherence of argument. They didn't do a great job of motivating their questions because they weren't yet fully sure how their work fit in the larger scheme of things. They hadn't thought through the "so what?" of their findings because they hadn't had time to fully make sense of them. They made assumptions or mistakes in their research design and analyses—just like everyone does in the early iterations of a project and paper—but they submitted their papers anyway.

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Created: 2018-09-02
Last modified: 2018-09-02