SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration
Good and not-so-good ideas in research. A tutorial in idea assessment and generation
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
Keywords: graduate education; creativity; assessment of research ideas; (follow links to similar papers)
31 pages, June 1, 2003, Revised December 13, 2003
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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