chapter 12 - 12 Reflections on the Results of Integration...

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12 Reflections on the Results of Integration Several distinct sorts of reflection are called for. All are often eschewed by researchers anxious to publish their results as quickly as possible. In some ways interdisciplinary analysis should be inherently reflective: the interdisciplinarian has to ask what theories and methods and phenomena and disciplines to engage, and it is hard to perform such steps without thinking a little bit about why certain choices are made. It may thus be that an explicitly reflective step is less needed in integrative research than in specialized research. However, if interdisciplinarians will be successful in gaining the attention of specialized researchers they may have to be more reflective: about how to enter the specialized scholarly discourse in an interesting and persuasive manner, and thus how to address those elements of their own research that may cause concern among the intended audience. 12.1 Reflect on One’s Own Biases This step should be mandatory. A key guiding principle of interdisciplinary analy- sis is that no piece of scholarly research is perfect. If we accept that no scholarly method can guide a researcher flawlessly toward insight, then it follows that scholarly results may reflect researcher biases. This does not mean that results only reflect such biases, as some in the field of science studies have claimed. But it does mean that one way of evaluating the insights generated by research is to interrogate researcher biases. Since researchers have a unique insight into their own thought processes, they have a valuable role to play here. And thus an exer- cise such as the present one – where authors reflect on their own biases – should be performed as a matter of course. Of course researchers may be biased in their assessment of their own biases. Given the human tendency to mislead ourselves about our faults, others may also usefully identify researcher biases. But again the researcher has a unique insight into their own psychology, and can thus at the very least provide a starting point for readers as they reflect upon possible authorial biases. One powerful means of limiting authorial bias in reflecting on their own biases is to require the author to consult a lengthy list of potential biases. Authors may not consciously admit the possibility of certain biases unless guided to reflect upon them. What might my own biases be? As should be clear by now, I believe in theoretical and methodological flexibility. I may thus be biased toward seeing some good in all approaches. Indeed, I do suspect that any idea pursued at length by some academic community must have some kernel of truth in it. But this need not prevent skepticism: I can appreciate that those who thought the world was flat were misguided while appreciating the value of the ways they amassed evidence R. Szostak, The Causes of Economic Growth , DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-92282-7_12, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009 331
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332 12. Reflections on the Results of Integration
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chapter 12 - 12 Reflections on the Results of Integration...

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