Sr Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Perspectives on Research and Creative Activity
The diverse nature of scholarly research and creative activity of our faculty is a recognized strength of Bowling Green State University. In this context, it is often the case that research, teaching, and service overlap. Such overlap is to be encouraged as the three activities complement and energize each other. The Academic Plan describes the character of BGSU as inquiry, engagement, and achievement to avoid the limens between teaching, research, and service. However, there are times when it is useful to characterize research and creative activity per se, and the following perspectives may be useful in such endeavors. Of course, these perspectives may relate to teaching and service, as well, but they are manifest differently.
Creativity. The hallmark of research is creativity. In research one does not just continue to perform past practices in typical situations (as might be the case in providing an academic service, for example). While building on what has come before, scholars conceive new ideas, design innovative tests of ideas, pioneer a fundamentally new application, or create and interpret artistic work.
Extension. One of the most essential elements of research is the degree to which principles extend beyond the circumstances in which they were first developed and tested. Extrapolation occurs from the specific to the general and the general to the specific. Data are used to test ideas and theories, theories are used to drive experiments, and creative activities or works of art extend our world to inspire even more creativity.
Review. Other scholars must judge ideas and tests of ideas. Those with artistic appreciation jury creative activity. In addition, review and critique by other constituents often helps define the relevance of contributions and assess their impact. However, appreciation by lay audiences, although it may influence scholarly judgments, does not substitute for scholarly review.
Dissemination. The results of research must be shared and understood by other scholars who are in a position to replicate, expand, and build upon it. Such dissemination typically happens through publication in the archival journals and presentations at academic conferences. However, the norms for dissemination can vary substantially. In many cases there can be latitude in the mode of dissemination as long as the scholar can demonstrate that the results are distributed across a community of scholars that is more than local or regional.
In addition to the perspectives listed above, the following are encouraged as aspects of good practice:
Range. The full range of basic and applied research should be encouraged in the academy. Basic research is not preferable to applied research, or vice versa. Creative activity in the arts is not more or less important than scientific research or work in the humanities. Nontraditional approaches and applications are to be fostered. Collaboration with community groups, as well as research and development activities with business and industry, is desirable.
Impact. The measure of a scholarly contribution is its influence on scholarly theory, practice, and performance; not by time or effort involved, resources used, or the difficulty of the accomplishment. Publications should be evaluated on the basis of their merit, not necessarily (and especially not exclusively) on the quality of the journal in which they are published.
Productivity. Scholarly productivity is related to impact, including an evolving and cohesive scholarly agenda with creativity, extension, review, and dissemination. Productivity is not well reflected by the number of publications accrued; i.e., research projects should not be divided into separate papers to increase the count. Merit systems that provide variable points for different types of communications can be abused.
Collaboration. Teams can often be more productive than scholars working in isolation. Teams share the load. Members of the team bring different perspectives and skills to the endeavor. Communication among team members often sharpens ideas. When practical, team members should be encouraged to develop written statements explaining the role played by each contributor.