Monday, October 3, 2011

Are Research Papers a Waste of Time? - Room for Debate -

Are Research Papers a Waste of Time? 

The NY Times article asks a worrisome question, Are Research Papers a Waste of Time? - Room for Debate, then provides several linked articles from academics willing to argue both sides of the debate. 

"Is the research paper still justifiable as a means of grading a college student's performance? Critics of the form say it is outdated because the Internet has made sources so readily accessible. In addition, argues an article published recently by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education, research papers promote deference to conventional opinions. 
Thomas Bertonneau, the author of the article, "Down With Research Papers!" argued that students should instead be assigned essays, focusing on concise arguments staking out a point of view rather than long, informative surveys of a subject.
 Many of the professors who assign research papers would disagree that they are encouraging students to think conventionally, and point out that the essay has its own limitations. If research papers -- or dissertations, for that matter -- were to become a thing of the past, what would we lose in our pursuit of knowledge? 
Is there a better way to assess knowledge?"

Ummm, that would be a "No".

The ability to collect a wide range of facts and opinions, compare and contrast that body of information, develop a line of reason, a hypothesis, or argument and effectively communicate the author's interpretation, argument, or position is the best way to assess knowledge. 

No Rolodex of factoids, no matter how deep and accessible, is a suitable replacement.

Is my position clear?

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