Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How do you know if you're researching in bad faith? A handy checklist.

Over the course of a couple hours I encountered so much bad pseudo-academic work that it inspired me to write down the little checklist of items that go through my head whenever I encounter some research in economics or other social sciences. Sean Carroll has a good one more appropriate to hard sciences:
  1. Acquire basic competency in whatever field of science your discovery belongs to.
  2. Understand, and make a good-faith effort to confront, the fundamental objections to your claims within established science.
  3. Present your discovery in a way that is complete, transparent, and unambiguous.
Actually the first two items below are basically Carroll's first two, and the following ones are more specific versions of Carroll's third.

Here are my ten criteria ...
How do you know if you're researching in bad faith?  A handy checklist.
⬜   1) You fail to connect your work to prior art in the field you are working in  
⬜   2) You fail to cite references or consider arguments contrary to your own results
⬜   3) You cite non-peer-reviewed, non-canon, or discredited references without arguing why they should be considered 
⬜   4) You fail to compare your model to other models 
⬜   5) If it is theoretical work, you fail to compare your theory to data 
⬜   6) If it is empirical work, you fail to point out the implicit models involved in the data collection
⬜   7) You fail to see or point out how your data representation may be misleading 
⬜   8) You fail to address that your conclusion is politically or academically convenient for you 
⬜   9) You fail to make your data sources and/or software accessible 
⬜   10) You fail to bend over backwards to come up with reasons you might have missed something 
One could get a couple check marks and still be all right (I'm sure several entries on this blog don't meet every one of these [1]), but 3-5 is a sign you're dealing with someone who isn't presenting research in good faith (but rather motivated to sell you something ... an idea, a product).

...

Footnotes:

[1] Every blog entry here passes 1, 4, 5, and 9 automatically via the links in the sidebar (on the desktop version site).

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