David Hendry’s tale of two cultures
David Hendry [University of Oxford] recently gave a talk titled “Research and the Academic: A Tale of Two Cultures” at the University of Western Australia. The full transcript is available at http://www.business.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/837086/10-01_RESEARCH_AND_THE_ACADEMIC_A_TALE_OF_TWO_CULTURES.pdf Here are the first six points of his ten-point description of one of the cultures.
The `Get Ahead’ Model
1] Choosing a subject to research
Any fad or fashion will do, if it is likely to last a couple more years and is a hot topic for Publication.
Within that fashionable field, mainly develop theory, preferably with a catchy title, some abstruse maths (explained as little as possible, so it looks `smart’), possibly with a couple of the key steps missing in reported proofs to make referees feel inferior and worried about their reputation that they cannot check the claims without a lot of time input. Minimise novelty— just enough so your contribution is not totally redundant.
If you should dare to stray from theory, in Hendry (1987), I proposed the four `golden prescriptions’ of applied econometrics:
(i) think brilliantly: if you think of the right answer before modelling, then the empirical results will be optimal and, of course, confirm your brilliance; failing that—
(ii) be infinitely creative: if you do not think of the correct model before commencing, the next best is to think of it as you proceed; failing that—
(iii) be outstandingly lucky: if you do not think of the `true model’ before starting nor discover it en route, then luckily stumbling over it before completing the study is the final sufficient condition. This may be the most practical of these suggestions.
Failing this last prescription:
(iv) stick to doing theory.
3] Journal submission
Choose the journal with the highest impact factor, as mistakes are made and you may be lucky: see Heintzelman and Nocetti (2009), but compare Oswald (2007). Either way, make sure you cite work by the editor and likely referees–often and favourably.
Check up on which conferences he/she is attending, go and chat up editor (buy them drinks etc.)
Shorten your paper drastically during revision to ensure it gets through as short and zippy.
One route is to split the original into two, three, or even four papers, parcelling up your ideas as finely as possible, all short and pithy, as small steps are least likely to fall foul of misunderstanding what you are doing or how it is done.
4] Sell your work
All these papers can now cite each other, but more importantly, get all your friends and colleagues to cite all of them every time they write anything remotely related, and in all possible outlets (seminars, conferences, publications etc.).
Refer to own work as `fundamental’, `already a classic’, preferably naming the theorems after yourself (Blog policy or Smith’s curve etc.).
Assert that all known empirical evidence supports your conclusions—almost no one will bother to check, and critical comments never get published anyway (Editor’s letters in economics always assert that they seek positive contributions, not negative: how many destructive pieces have you seen in print relative to ones claiming advances? Much empirical research cannot even be reproduced despite closely following what a paper claims was done. Draw wide-ranging and dramatic conclusions at the end, however flimsy their basis.
Chase every author in the same area who does not cite every one of your papers favourably, with aggressive letters, possibly even threatening plagiarism accusations if they do not acknowledge your priority.
Endlessly tour US universities presenting seminars—few researchers bother to just read journals to find interesting or relevant papers, so this is the only sure way to bring your important work to their attention, after which, they tell each other.
Only agree to referee rival papers so you can then reject them: fail to respond to other requests to slow down the processing and appearance in print of that author’s work. You need not produce good reasons for rejection: editors have so many papers crossing their desks, the simple assertion that the work is not novel, not scholarly, or not correct etc. will suffice. I know of even less well documented reports that have been sent out, including one that read: `There are good dogs, guide dogs and hot dogs, and this paper is a hot dog.’ That was the sum total of the report…..other than the editor’s rejection letter.
Grab every opportunity to get control of a journal, so you can select only papers favourable to, and citing, your work. Chase `stars’ for their latest papers promising speedy publication, then publish your own work in the same issue to bask in their kudos.
Sit on papers that criticise anything published in your journal—then reject them only after interest in that topic has faded so they have no hope of publishing their critique anywhere else.
Read the rest, including “The Community of Scholars Model” here: http://www.business.uwa.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/837086/10-01_RESEARCH_AND_THE_ACADEMIC_A_TALE_OF_TWO_CULTURES.pdf