Read me first

August 17, 2017

Re “Research in social science may well be doomed unless we act” (Opinion, 10 August). Why not simply say that less research should be funded until more of it has been read properly? The main problem with academic research is not that it’s largely irrelevant but rather that it’s largely unread.

That people do/publish research just to score hits to boost their careers does not necessarily mean that what they are saying is rubbish. However, that we know that this is why they do/publish research means that we quickly dismiss/ignore such work unless we too are invested in the same career strategy. The relatively cheap solution would be to fund people to read research across a wide range of areas and come up with some interesting testable hypotheses that bring the different strands together. At least, we should make a substantive exercise of this kind a precondition to receiving research funding.

Steve Fuller

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