How To Share an Expert or Informed Opinion on Research Articles
The ways in which readers can share expert scholarly opinions about academic and scientific research articles have increased markedly as the internet has become an acceptable and fashionable venue for disseminating advanced research. Critical thoughts and views about published scholarship that were once written by experts behind closed doors and read by no more than a small number of like-minded researchers can now be shared online by anyone who has an opinion and the desire to express it. As appealing as this may be for many readers who wish to share their views, it nevertheless means that there are as many questionable and poorly conceived opinions available on the web as there are thoughtful and informative ones.
The first concern, then, when sharing any kind of opinion on a research article is to read the article carefully as well as critically, ensuring that you thoroughly comprehend the author’s meaning and the implications of the research he or she reports and discusses. Ideally, you will also possess the extensive background knowledge necessary for an informed opinion. In addition, your thoughts should be written in language that is clear and correct, and your comments and tone should be respectful, fair and as objective as possible.
If you wish to share your opinion on a research article in a traditional scholarly manner, consider one or more of the following options.
• Do a pre-publication review of the research article for a scientific or academic journal. In most cases only the editor(s) of the journal and the author(s) of the article will see your peer review comments, but you can encourage improvements to the research and writing and have an impact on whether the article is published or not.
• Discuss the research article in a journal review article or in the literature review (or any other relevant) section of your own research article or monograph. Because reviewing a research article in this way generally means considering it in the context of other publications in the field, a review article can be a particularly effective means of sharing an expert opinion about advanced research.
• Write a formal response to the research article. Some journals publish expert or authoritative opinions of this kind, often as letters to the editor and occasionally as opinion-based articles. If the author of a research article published in a journal has commented on your research in a way that begs a response, that journal may be an appropriate venue for sharing that response with readers.
• Do a review of the entire publication containing the research article. This is rare for journals, though not unprecedented, but if a research paper is published as a chapter in a monograph instead of as a journal article, doing a post-publication review of the book will allow you to share your opinion on the paper. You will need to deal with every chapter of the book in some way, however, so this approach requires a wider perspective and usually more time and effort.
If, on other hand, you would like to share your opinion on a research article via one of the less traditional and in some cases less formal means now available, the following options will probably be of interest.
• Do a post-publication review of the research article. Some scholarly journals have adopted a strategy for peer reviews whereby an article is published online, experts are invited to comment and the reviews are published alongside the article, enabling readers to consult them as well as the article and allowing authors to respond and revise as appropriate.
• Discuss the research article on your institutional or personal website. This will be most effective if you consider the article in relation to your own research and share opinions on other key publications in your field as well. Your students may find your opinions on research articles particularly helpful.
• Share your opinion of the research article in a blog post or other kind of online article. If the research article is closely related to your own research or its results profoundly affect your work, an entire post might be dedicated to your opinions about the developments the research article introduces. Alternatively, your thoughts about the research article might be mentioned in passing at a pertinent point in your discussion of other matters.
• Use social media (both personal and professional) to share your opinion on the research article. If the article has just been published or you have recently read it for the first time, sharing your views about its content and significance with others who may have already read it or would be interested in doing so can be beneficial for both you and your connections.
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