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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2009 Jul;4(4):435-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01151.x.

What Kind of Empirical Research Should We Publish, Fund, and Reward?: A Different Perspective.

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University of Pennsylvania


When evaluating empirical papers for publication, grant proposals, or individual contributions (e.g., awarding tenure), the basic question one should ask is how much the contribution adds to understanding in psychology and not whether the contribution takes a particular form or represents one particular model of how to do empirical studies. Academic psychology has flourished with its mastery of the hypothesis-experiment model of science and its expertise in generating and eliminating alternative hypotheses and isolating causation. These accomplishments are a critical part of psychology, and they are well and appropriately taught by psychologists. However, they are only a part of science and should not comprise the almost exclusive criteria for evaluating research. In particular, discovery of fundamental phenomena, such as functional relations that apply to the real world and have generality, should have a higher priority in psychology. Such findings have been the basis for theoretical advances in other natural sciences.

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