Design a site like this with
Get started

Will this discussion never end?

You’ve selected, you’ve measured, you’ve validated, you’ve thought about it and now is the point where you get to say what it all means. The very first thing you should do is list all of the limitations you can think of surrounding what you have just done. This will help modulate what you say. The single biggest problem I encounter as an editor of a journal is the disconnect between the claims people make and the methods/findings they use to make them. That would be nice to say, but your results don’t support that statement.

It is very natural. After all, you’re excited about your discoveries and you want to share them with people. But often, you (me and everyone else) over-state what we’ve done. In traditional humanistic scholarship, whose origins go back to rhetorical performance, the whole point was to over-state. Those claims you read back in the preface to this book derive precisely from this tradition. Say it loud and proud! This is great if your goal is rhetorical persuasion, but not so great if your goal is to arrive at a consensual understanding of how a phenomenon in the world works.            

To be honest I don’t have a lot more to say about how to discuss your results. In many ways everything I’ve said until now should be part of your discussion. But keep these questions in mind as you write your article:

How did you arrive at your concepts? What are their limitations?

How did you arrive your measurements? What are their limitations?

What do your results tell you and not tell you?

Why is this a meaningful question and where should we go from here?

What do we not yet know and what would be useful next steps to give us more confidence about the thing you’re saying exists?

Usually the answer to the last question is a) more data or b) a different measure to corroborate the first or c) both.

The place of discussion is a great place to wrestle with all of the gnarly implications of what you’re doing. Why did you do it? What does it really show us? Why does this matter? What should we do about it? And how much uncertainty is there in what you’ve found? These are all good places to begin the endless discussion about the meaning of documents.

%d bloggers like this: