Research = publication is a buzzkill. Sorry to put it so roughly. The writing according to the standardized peer-reviewed introduction-methods-findings-discussion-conclusion is boring. Why? I guess this is a language that the general public does not understand, only the knowledgeable scientist. I am not a big fan of the model also because it indirectly encourages perverse behaviors, such as citing papers not necessarily fully criticized, including authors who should necessarily be among those with the scientific responsibility of authorship. Finally, the lack of readership makes the model weak.
This being said this model is one we have to work with because it is a globally accepted one. In addition, the model is not the only way to diffuse knowledge, quite far from it. While I was, in the previous post I shared, supporting writing a blog for reasons other than diffusion, I also trust it is a relevant tool to share information. With increasingly democratized tools to reference our works online, writing blogs can be a recognized and valid way of sharing findings.
I am getting dispersed because this is not the point I would like to make today. In my work as a consultant in health economics and market access but even more so since I started working in academia, I have been intrigued and attracted to the pedagogical question of scientific capacity-building, i.e. how do we effectively train people to be producing (as peer-reviewed publication producers) researchers. Simply because if we conduct research without being able to communicate it, it has to do with the expression “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Communicating findings is the last and sine qua non step of evidence-based research conduct.
So I observe my students, my colleagues and try to understand and interpret where they struggle. I look back at my career, try to be critical about my own limitations to elicit why we often hurt before reaching the final holy grail of the publication. To be transparent, I am not writing as someone above the crowd in this regard, quite the opposite. I have now been part of my university for nearly three years and very few papers have come out of my desk, while I have countless ongoing research projects.
I am a fierce defender of project-based learning, i.e., we learn by doing and that is why I usually try to avoid dry methodological classes as I feel they have little (and sometimes no) benefits to the learner. But this may not always be enough and that is why during my stay at Virginia Tech, prize of the USFQ SHIFT, I thought a research clinic may be a valuable addition to the university arsenal of methods to foment research and research outputs.
The concept is fairly simple: create a place where you can book an appointment the same way you go get an appointment at your local clinic to see a GP when you have a health issue, or how a psychologist attends you when you are going through a rough patch. A research/pedagogist listens to you, try to simplify and map out the situation to eventually generate an action plan. I’d go a step further and introduce the public health concepts of primary and secondary care whereby, the first research “treating” you initially may refer to a more specialized colleague (who is also sensitive pedagogist) for more specific support, notably when it comes to particular methodological approaches. This is a gut feeling that I need to dig into, including the literature, so don’t take my word for it that it will work!
In addition, I would like to generate data to eventually be able to identify patterns, create tools, such as short questionnaires to “diagnose” certain blocks and thereby contribute to a more efficient research producing institution. This is an idea progressively walking its walk and I am hopeful it will see the light of day.