In research there is never enough time to see every interesting idea through to a satisfactory conclusion. In an ideal world there would be time to read around the idea, to discuss it with colleagues, and to think. There would then be resources available to carry out some research to test the idea or explore it further – perhaps involving some fieldwork or more time in the library. Finally, if all that went well and the results were promising, there would be enough time to write up the findings and publish them in a highly respected academic journal, where they would be read by other academics and perhaps even some influential people.
Life is not like that. We read things that interest or excite us, we talk about them briefly, or jot down notes or scribble on the margins of papers. And there they sit. Working in an applied interdisciplinary field as we do, we often want to talk about what we are reading and thinking with people in different disciplines, and there is never enough time to find them and correspond. The result is probably familiar to every researcher: our desks are piled with good ideas in various states of readiness, waiting for a gap between lectures, meetings or marking to receive the attention they deserve. The gap never materialises, the ideas keep coming and the notes pile up. We find our high ideas-to-papers ratio deeply frustrating.
We hope that this blog will give a new way to think ideas through, and to find people to share them with. We hope it will let us develop and share ideas more easily and more quickly than writing an academic journal paper or book. We also hope that we can stimulate some feedback and debate on what we write. Is it a good idea? Does the argument miss the point? Does the idea make a good blog post, but nothing more? Is it something that somebody else has already looked at, or people in another discipline have analysed to death ? Or might it actually be a rather good idea that needs to be followed up with more thorough research? If it is worth more attention, by us or someone else, maybe discussion on the blog can help to shape the research by identifying pitfalls or key challenges.
We both work on the conservation of biodiversity and its relationship to society. We intend our posts to this blog to be relevant to this general theme, although we do not rule out the odd foray into less familiar territory. We hope that we will find readers, and that you will find the blog interesting. If so, please do write some comments so we know you are out there, and please do share the blog with others.
Chris Sandbrook & Bill Adams
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are our own, and do not necessarily reflect those of our employers.