March 28, 2014

Generally Accepted Research Rules

[Posted on FPN on Aug 10, 2010, and on L&P on Aug 13, 2010.]
        Perhaps these rules are a bit too rigorous and demanding, but it would be a small victory if people would follow at least some of the rules.  Do my senses deceive me, or are some posters on message boards following some of the generally accepted research rules?  For instance, some are actually signing their real names, and staying civil, and being generous with citing their sources, and daring to take pen research seriously.  It’s a small victory for all of us.

1. Do no harm.  Do not disseminate any disinformation.  Do not destroy, suppress, withhold, or conceal any information that you may discover.  Do not discourage any avenues of possible research.

2. Stay civil.  This is the first and foremost rule for online research.  No flaming, or spamming, at all.  Do not downplay, disparage, or ridicule anyone else’s theories or proposals.  Instead, try to prove them wrong.

3. Take ownership of everything you write.  Sign everything you post or publish, and don’t expect everyone to know you by your username, or handle.  There is no place in research for anonymity.

4. Anything reasonable should be allowed to be raised and given a chance, even though it is raised anonymously, and even though it might later be discounted, but there must be at least some initial basis in fact.

5. Be clear in what you write.  Make sure you distinguish between what is established fact and what is just conjecture, or opinion, or guesses.

6. Cite your sources.  Whenever possible try to avoid leaving dangling attributions such as “I seem to remember”, or “I read somewhere that”.  Make all references explicit and definite.

7. Limit your quotations of others’ messages to the pertinent portion to which you are responding, and never include quotations of quotations unless you are responding to all of them specifically.

8. Use standard English, but if you can’t, and you have some new pen knowledge to contribute, others will still want to read it.  Use a spell checker, and avoid using sentence fragments.

9. Resist using emoticons and other disfiguring, idiosyncratic punctuation marks, or at least use them sparingly, and only on the rarest occasions.  They distract the reader from the text.

10. Dare to take pen research seriously.  If you don’t, no one else will, and pen research will languish.  Do it so well they can’t ignore it.

George Kovalenko.