Since I’ve started reading academic journals I’ve noticed a few things:
1. They are not targeted at normal people.
2. It’s handy to have a dictionary nearby.
3. I better brush up on my stats.
4. There are two different types of papers, those referred to as “theory” papers, and those that focus on “method”.
If theory is conceptual, qualitative, and open-ended, then method is more concrete, quantitative, and focused…sort of. Method certainly focuses more on math, data, stats, analysis, etc. whereas theory is more focused on putting forth new ideas and encouraging exploration, but there appears to be quite a bit of overlap, and no obvious point of delineation between the two. A helpful bit of writing, a journal piece itself (I think…maybe it’s not an actual paper but just an introduction to other papers as it seems to imply), which has helped me to understand more about these separate-yet-overlapping worlds, is THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN THEORY AND METHOD by VAN MAANEN, SØRENSEN, and MITCHELL (login/registration required for reading). I haven’t read all that many journal articles thus far, since this is all rather new to me, but this one has been especially helpful in that it has given me a better understanding of the research world in general. The paper is also somewhat more entertaining than most due to its use of words like “befuddlement”, “knotty”, and “hermeneutic”.
The question that then arises is do researches typically find themselves gravitating towards one sort of paper rather than another? And is this something to avoid, or embrace? If I’m more of a writing person than a math person, should I team up with someone who is more of the data type of guy and we can co-author great work together, or should I work to become a great data guy myself so as to avoid the potential mistrust that would accompany becoming known as “not so great with numbers”?Liked it? Share it!