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If You Can’t Answer “Yes” To These 5 Questions, Your Research Is Rubbish

And, they could be the key to your success.

Here’s what I learned from my disruptive mentor:

Bad research is rampant

Good research is scarce

We create and consume research every day. Governments make policies, organizations develop products, and people change their lives based on[bad] research. Academics spend their careers filling shelves (or the cloud) with research that will never get read and quite frankly, never should.

1. Is your research interesting?

Research is ‘good’ not because it is true (Big ‘T’ truth or little ‘t’ truths) but because it is interesting. Interesting research challenges rather than reinforces accepted ideas and ways of thinking.

Make it interesting.

2. Is your research innovative?

Innovation isn’t so much about originality as it is about creativity.

Creative combinations and applications can elevate your research from the mundane to the interesting.

3. Is your research useful?

A 2003 study conducted at the St. Thomas School of Medicine, London, identified four criteria for ‘good’ research. The first and foremost was that research should have practical application for its field. It needs to be useful to someone. In their case, ‘good’ research informed the development of health services or interventions.

Who will use your research?

Most of the people I work with are doing research because they want to make a difference. And yet, I would wager, that very few have them have published something that has impacted policy, changed someone’s life, or even had more than fifty reads.

4. Is your research empirically derived?

A growing trend in the social sciences is to woo your audience (and impress reviewers) with complex and contemporary statistics. But if you don’t have a good research question or a good data collection strategy, it doesn’t matter what you do with your data.

Bad data with robust analysis does not ‘good’ research make.

Your research question should be interesting, innovative, and useful. But, and this is just as important, your method should be too. If it isn’t, you probably don’t have a very valid or reliable study. And you surely won’t have good data.

5. Is your research vertically integrated?

Don’t get stuck in a box. Just because you are a self-proclaimed biology student or in a biology department doesn’t mean your research can’t pull from other fields. In fact, ‘good’ research is often interdisciplinary. Something that has a biological explanation should have a good sociological and psychological explanation too (and visa versa).

If not, be disruptive.

Try something new. Make something ‘good.’

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Garrett Stone

Husband. Father. Student. Teacher. Studying the science of travel and the art of teaching.