The Authors: Jorgen Sandberg and Mats Alvesson (at the PROS2016 Conference in Corfu, Greece)

The Authors: Jorgen Sandberg and Mats Alvesson (at the PROS2016 Conference in Corfu, Greece)

Special Episode 15 is, as always, suitable for everyone, but should be especially useful for PhD and early-career researchers!

What is it about research that makes it interesting? Or, rather, at which point does a study become interesting (or not)? The more common answer to these questions would most certainly place emphasis on the results and outcomes of a study - i.e. the research is interesting if the findings are interesting. In their 2013 book - Constructing Research Questions: Doing interesting research - Mats Alvesson (Lund University, Sweden) and Jorgen Sandberg (University of Queensland, Australia) propose that the focal point of what contributes to something being interesting is found way before any results or implications. The focal point of what makes a research interesting has to do with the assumptions that go into the design of that research. 

This book is just as relevant for new researchers and research students as it is for more seasoned academics (albeit for different reasons). First and foremost it highlights the need to be creative and self-aware when formulating research questions. Alvesson and Sandberg, however, go beyond mere critique and also specific ways of how to overcome some of the issues that make research less interesting.

In Constructing Research Questions: Doing Interesting Research (2013), Alvesson and Sandberg develop a problematization methodology for identifying and challenging the assumptions underlying existing theories and for generating research questions that can lead to more interesting and influential theories, using examples from across the social sciences. They highlight that established methods of generating research questions tend to focus on 'gap-spotting'. While they emphasize that there is nothing inherently wrong with this method, the overuse of it does mean that existing literature remains largely unchallenged. Alvesson and Sandberg show the dangers of conventional approaches, providing detailed ideas for how one can work through such problems and formulate novel research questions that challenge existing theories and produce more imaginative empirical studies.

All researchers want to produce interesting and influential theories. A key step in all theory development is formulating innovative research questions that will result in interesting and significant research

Joining us for this Special Episode is Professor Jorgen Sandberg, one of the Authors of the book! We sat down with Jorgen to talk about his work and get some clarifications about what is it that makes research interesting (and for whom), how is this relevant to new and experienced academics and what is the purpose of writing a book such as this. 

This episode is released in one part due to being relatively brief (largely owing to Jorgen's travel itinerary on the day!).

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