The joy of ... academic papers?

Earlier this year, I wrote about Father Geoffrey's journey (here), the account of a piece of research which I had written up for publication.  It is now freely available (OR Insight 26: 140-148, doi:10.1057/ori.2012.16, here or pdf).  Yesterday, copies of the journal issue arrived to subscribers.  This morning, there was an email from one of my oldest friends and colleagues in Operational Research, reading:

Dear David,
I have a confession.  I enjoyed your article.

I suspect that some of that email was written, tongue-in-cheek, to let me know that he had seen it and had read it.  And he was doubtless aware of the old joke that only three people ever read research papers - the author and the two referees.  So it is pleasant to know that at least one person read the paper on the day it appeared. 

However, there is a deeper aspect to the message.  How often do we enjoy an article in our research journals?  I mean research journals, not our professional journals, which should have a lighter style.  Put you hand on your heart and ask "Which papers over my O.R. career have I enjoyed reading?"  For many of us, the answer will be embarrassingly few.  I can think of half a dozen, in each of which the personality of the authors came through, as they wrote about their enthusiasm for the work that they were describing.  And these papers still maintained academic rigour. 

The academic style has been lampooned numerous times; I really enjoyed the spoof reports of an 11 month old girl and her toys (description and "academic" paper) as an example.

How could your next paper or presentation be prepared so that people might "Enjoy" it?


Popular Posts