You know your research is original when…

Many consider Frank Hebert’s Dune the most important work of science-fiction ever written. Consider that Star Wars is just a variation on Dune. Yet, it was rejected by more than twenty publishers, before being finally published. It is likely that publishers rejected Dune precisely because it was such a radical departure for the genre.

Of course, being rejected does not mean you are original. It could also mean that you are sloppy or uninteresting. However, there may be valid indications of your originality such as:

  • You have no competitor. Nobody quite does what you do.
  • You cannot be scooped. You read new issues of journals looking for fresh ideas, but without fear that someone made you irrelevant.

As MacLeod put it: Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

Further reading: The secret behind radical innovation and A recipe for interesting Computer Science research papers.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

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

5 thoughts on “You know your research is original when…”

  1. Interesting points. But consider that Newton and Leibniz independently developed the Calculus, which was strikingly original. I don’t know the history really well, but I believe that Newton saw Leibniz as a competitor and was very concerned about being scooped.

  2. You know your research is original when the paper you submit to the DATA COMPRESSION conference about a DATA COMPRESSION method with which your client has been saving millions of dollars by COMPRESSING DATA for ten years and it is rejected with the notation “THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DATA COMPRESSION.”

    And it happened just like that.

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