Friday, June 29, 2018

Some characteristics of a bad research paper.

Stephen Krashen

Journal of English Language Teaching (ELTAI, India 2018.  (60, 3, p. 19). (I was invited to comment on the characteristics of a good ESL research paper, word limit = 500 words.)

1.      Make the paper too long (Krashen, 2012a).   Example: Far too many papers waste space on long and irrelevant literature reviews, designed only to show that the author has done some reading. When we ask the time, we don't want to know how watches are constructed.”  Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)  
2.      Fill the paper with unnecessary jargon and jibberish (Krashen, 2012b). Incomprehensible papers are a good way of avoiding criticism:“As long as academics write in the tortured vocabulary of specialization for seminars and conferences, where they are unable to influence public debate, they are free to espouse any bizarre or ‘radical’ theory” (Hedges, 2010: p.125).  Such papers do not advance knowledge.
3.     Publish in an expensive journal or an even more expensive book. Prices of journals and books are now outrageous, which means research is not available to most people unless they have access to a first-class university library. Universities make it worse by insisting that professors only publish in these expensive journals or collections. 
Mathematician Tim Gowers, winner of the Fields Medal (math’s Nobel Prize), has led a boycott of the Elsevier publishing company because of their high prices. His solution is open-access journals published on the internet that do not charge readers and that either don’t charge authors or charge only minimal fees to meet some of the journals’ expenses (e.g. not US $600 but US $10). 

Education should be the first field to encourage and accept open access, but instead it seems to be the last. The results of educational research should be made freely available to all teachers, researchers, and interested members of the public.  

Note: Many of my papers and books are available for free download at www.sdkrashen.com. I am gradually adding more, and I intend to add this one. 
Also published here: https://tinyurl.com/yafq7qkb


Hedges, C. 2010. Death of the Liberal Class.(New York: Nation Books). 
Krashen, S. 2012a. A short paper proposing that we need to write shorter papers. Language and Language Teaching (Azim Premji University). 1(2): 38-39. http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/a_short_paper.pdf
Krashen, S. 2012b. Academic jibberish. RELC Journal. 43 (2): 283-285. http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/academic_jibberish.pdf



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