What is a reusable research result?

Peter argued that reusability and originality are the primary qualities of a research result.

I can tell something is not original if it is looks similar to previous work.

When reviewing a paper, it might difficult to determine if the research result is reusable. Nevertheless, here are some attributes of a reusable research result:

  • It is explained carefully and correctly in a widely available paper.
  • It can be expressed using a few simple words. Matter is Energy. No logical system can be complete. The medium is the message.
  • It can applied to a wide range of problems. Small, large, complex or simple problems. Problems from other fields.

Because most scientists work on a small set of problems at any given time, and have often some experience in one or two fields, at most, I do not think they are very good at judging the reusability of a result.

Back when Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) was the next big thing, it was believed that building reusable objects would be a relatively easy thing. Inheritance was touted as a way to build up on existing objects that you could keep on reusing. In practice, what people reuse are libraries and APIs, but few people reuse their own objects again and again. We have learned that building reusable objects is hard and it is very often the result of collaborative work.

Daniel Lemire, "What is a reusable research result?," in Daniel Lemire's blog, February 13, 2008.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may subscribe to this blog by email.