If you haven’t been on Twitter lately, perhaps you haven’t heard the news that we recently launched a Biology Research Network (BioRN). As researchers can imagine, we’re pretty stoked to be breaking out of our social science comfort zone. Opening new opportunities for researchers to find the right academic papers makes us very proud. It’s another achievement toward building a scholarly network of interdisciplinary researchers, and we’re chuffed to hand it over for public use.
Building a research network does not happen without doing, you guessed it, research. What we found along the way was that hard sciences (particularly life sciences) branch into social science topics that we’ve been dedicated to for decades. We learned a lot about what Biology Researchers look for in scholarship. Conversely, we learned a lot of things that Biology Researchers definitely don’t want to deal with day-to-day; here are some of the misconceptions biology researchers don’t need in their lives.
Biologists are in their own little world
Just because the professors in the bio department sit at a different lunch table does not mean that their work is non-transferable to other fields. Not only is it valuable in a practical sense, but you might be surprised by the number of other fields that cross into biology. Just look at law and anthropology, to name a couple. Perhaps the missing study in each research paper is simply hiding in another academic library (or eLibrary).
Biology research is one-dimensional
Bioresearch doesn’t simply report the findings of every inconsequential study and move on to the next. Papers offer-up reason for value and implicate how the new findings will affect people. That’s right, it doesn’t just study life; it affects people’s lives.
People don’t challenge bioresearch once it’s published
Controversy! We love it on the internet and we love it in our research. Successful studies can be cited for years after they are published, but even if a rare gem of new information is uncovered it is necessary for researchers to explore the findings. It can be hard to reproduce research in general, but biologists tend to be good at expanding on previous findings. When they do this they may see that formerly accepted knowledge is false, or even discover something new altogether.
There are no gray areas in Biology (or other sciences)
Researchers aim to prove something. All research is trying to reach a logical conclusion. If you aren’t proving a point, you are doing it wrong. True, some research projects look for universal truths, but philosophy, ethics, cognitive science, these are all things that can affect bioresearch. If you accept that there are gray areas in those fields when there is a “social science” label on it then you must also accept it when there is a “bio” label.
It’s easier to prove biology than social sciences
Doing a research study with a petri dish rather than a focus group does not make it infallible. Biology conclusions are not always easy to see and sometimes you have to go back to the original data, or the thesis to find the value of your results. It’s rare to find an indisputable law in any field. Variables almost always exist.
Biology research is all experimentation
No, not all bioresearch is done in a lab, just like all archaeology work isn’t done in an ancient Egyptian tomb. Biologists have to clearly understand the works they are citing. There is a lot of reading involved in producing a new paper; there is also fieldwork. Depending on the focus of the biologist they may not be able to stray too far from a microscope, but it’s pretty safe to say their latest paper wasn’t grown in a vial.
There aren’t many sub-fields of biology
Um…marinebiology, microbiology… ah…biology of plants? We used over 100 topics and subtopics to build the BioRN eJournals. All of these topics were hiding right under our nose in the SSRN eLibrary. Which makes us wonder: do we even know who the biologists in our lives really are?
It’s so hard to find biology preprints
Traditionally, biology tends to gravitate toward the published, rather than the preprinted. Research is a fast-paced community, though. Sometimes the world has a hard time keeping up with research, sometimes research has a hard time keeping up with us. We think the faster valuable research is shared, the better. That’s why we made BioRN, that’s why we manage the other 30 networks on SSRN.
Do you have a pet peeve about assumptions that non-researchers make about your work? Share them with us by using the #SSRN or #BioRN on Twitter and be sure to submit your papers free.