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The Research Proposal

Each of the different sections of a research report (abstract, introduction, method, results, conclusions, references) is important to the overall report, but different readers might find different sections to be of more interest to them. Which part (aside from the abstract) do you tend to focus most of your interest on, and why? Which sections are most practitioners working in the field likely read? Why? Is this any different from what scholars or academics might read? If so, why? Finally, how does the file drawer phenomenon influence the entire body of research on a subject?

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This is a strange question. I have not the foggiest idea how to answer it.

It depends on what you're looking for, but of course, the typical academic is looking for a quick way to get to the point and move on. I never heard of an academic that sat down and read an article all the way through, and, depending on where they teach, this includes their own. They will never, ever, ever, read a book if it was preceded by an article. The article is enough. If they have read an academic's broad sense of worldview, they will not read anything more specific, since there is now no point (this goes double for people like Karl Popper, Kuhn, Sidney Hook or John Rawls, they are cited hourly, but usually only a few paragraphs are ever read). Academics, with a few exceptions, read conclusions, book reviews and maybe the abstract. I've been in academics a long time. There are few, if any, exceptions.

Methodologists will care about the more technical sections. I've known many of these people. Personally, they are usually a bit off, and no one's method is good enough for them, but they lose it whenever their own methods are criticized. Social scientists might be more interested in the conclusion (as would any sane person), and maybe the discussion for those in the humanities. But this is fantasy land.

Let me tell you a secret: academics read no differently than Freshmen, actually, I would bet my house that they read far worse. Normally, we read the conclusion, and maybe, though rarely, the introduction. Why would anyone but math nerds read the methods part? If the journal is peer reviewed, then the methods have already passed muster. I should I bother? Since most academics are epistemological relativists anyway, method is meaningless to them.

The reason that these articles are structured the way they are is that a template has been forced on graduate students. Why? Because there are so many universities and graduate students, that tens of thousands of Ph.D.s are granted each year. So what happens to the quality? The concept then is that a template makes the work go by quicker, since it's standardized. Did you ever ask your professor why none of the great scientific minds in history ever wrote like this? Not one of them did. Since graduate school is a conveyor belt to mint thousands of new Ph.Ds (though the job market barely exists), the point is to get things as standardized as possible. This also makes objective grades possible.

The file drawer is nothing new to me, who, unfortunately, am quite experienced in academia. It is considered common knowledge. Conservative responses will get an academic put under such suspicion that they often leave the school (I've been there). Another secret: statistics mean nothing. They can mean whatever you want them to. It's the perfect way to be partisan and scientific all at the same time. I've known some of the master ...

Solution Summary

Research proposals for overall report importance is discussed. How the file drawer phenomenon influences the entire body of research on a subject is given.

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