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Good and not-so-good ideas in research. A tutorial in idea assessment and generation

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  • Sjöberg, Lennart

    ()
    (Center for Risk Research)

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    Abstract

    This starting point of this paper is the difficulty for many graduate students to ever finish a Ph. D. and the graduate student’s need for good research ideas. According to Swedish data, only 20 percent of those who start as graduate students in the social sciences ever finish. One crucial problem is probably the lack of ideas and awareness of how to foster creativity. What are good ideas? Ideas are assessed all the time, by journal editors and referees, by research councils and thesis supervisors. Yet, there is little reflection on the question of what constitutes good ideas, and bad. Philosophy of science is briefly discussed in the paper, with examples from behaviorism and social constructivism, and it is argued that it provides no good basis for generating and assessing good ideas. The paper then proceeds by discussing examples of good, and not-so-good ideas. The notion of good bad ideas is introduced and an example is given. The paper then discusses several questions. Which characteristics of research ideas make them good, and which make them less good? How does one go about creating good ideas? What sort of research environment is most likely to stimulate the growth of good ideas? What are the processes which kill creativity in research? Creativity requires an open mind and strong interest. It takes time, sometimes much time, before good ideas arrive. Yet, success in a research career requires publications, and a brief section discusses how to plan one’s publications and have them accepted by journal editors. Finally, Swedish experience with an attempt to reform graduate education is discussed. It is pointed out that administrators’ inclinations to favor concrete policy measures such as financing do not necessarily lead to the desired consequences of increasing completion rate and decreasing study time. Another approach must be applied: the fostering of creativity.

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    File URL: http://swoba.hhs.se/hastba/papers/hastba2003_012.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Business Administration with number 2003:12.

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    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Jun 2003
    Date of revision: 13 Dec 2003
    Handle: RePEc:hhb:hastba:2003_012

    Note: Citation: Sjöberg, L. (2003). Good and not-so-good ideas in psychological research. A tutorial in idea assessment and generation. VEST: Journal for Science and Technology Studies, 16, 33-68.
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    Postal: The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE 113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
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    Web page: http://www.hhs.se/
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    Keywords: graduate education; creativity; assessment of research ideas;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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