what is an “original contribution”?


patter

Many doctoral researchers worry about what ‘original’ in original contribution to knowledge means. They worry whether their research will be seen as original enough. They worry which of the multiple ways in which original might be interpreted will be applied to their thesis.

The notion of original seems to carry with it the idea of singularity – I’ve done something fresh and unique– combined with the notion of originary – I’ve started something new here – combined with the notion of authenticity – this is all my own work, I haven’t copied it from anywhere else. Now each of these terms, applied as assessment criteria, is actually pretty unhelpful when it comes to academic work. These categories of originality might make sense for thinking about painting the Mona Lisa, or even inventing Facebook, but they don’t get very far in relation to scholarship. Let me explain.

Singularity? Something unique?…

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