Dr. Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (Dr. GAB)
By Ganiu Bamgbose(PhD)
A truism in scholarship which has become a slogan is: PUBLISH or PERISH! Scholars are celebrated primarily for their intellectual output, and this explains why research is one of the three essential duties of academics—with the two others being teaching and social services. The task of publishing an academic work is onerous.
That explains why, for many scholars, the joy of publishing a research paper could be next to the joy of having a child. The task of publishing or writing an academic work, such as a thesis, has its academic and psychological parts.
This piece is an attempt to clarify one of the many psychological dimensions to the business of academic writing, through a demystification of who a cerebral scholar is and who a prolific scholar is, and a presentation of the four possible academic ends scholars can find themselves.
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First of all, being cerebral is connected to the brain or the intellect; it includes being intellectual in nature. Cerebral writers or scholars pay attention to detail and depth. They are often very meticulous, organised and systematic. These qualities are essential for every scholar.
Prolific writers or scholars, by comparison, are those who successfully turn out a great number of academic works. Highly prolific writers and scholars are usually focused people with great concern for timeliness and progressive movement. Having operationalised these terms, the rest of this article will discuss the quadrangle that they pose for academics.
On the first edge of the quadrangle are scholars who are cerebral and prolific. These scholars are mindful of both the quality and the quantity of their publications. They avoid shoddy and pedestrian analysis, yet they understand the need to be progressive in their academic pursuits. In consequence, they do not stay on pieces of research forever.
The second edge of the quadrangle features those who are cerebral but not prolific. Researchers in this category are not so bothered about quantity, but they are concerned about the quality of their output.
Their research works are usually seminal, and they are often authorities on their areas of interest. Budding scholars or doctoral candidates in this category are thorough and patient, and they act like assistant supervisors for their own research, as they critique their works many times before forwarding the same to their supervisors.
The danger in being very cerebral and less mindful of output is that such scholars usually end up not having sufficient works for their academic growth. Young scholars in this category stay longer than necessary on their dissertations because they are busy supervising themselves, rather than submitting themselves to supervision.
The third of the quadrangle embodies people who are prolific but not cerebral. Scholars in this category are interested in output, with less consideration for quality. Such scholars are more concerned about having sufficient publications for their promotions; they get delight in being described as having published many papers.
Many times, they turn out shoddy papers that cannot be described as authoritative stances in their fields. Publications from such scholars do not enjoy citations from other scholars but, quite importantly, such academics ascend the ladder.
The final edge of the quadrangle houses scholars who are neither cerebral nor prolific. It is usually the circle of people who accidentally find themselves in scholarship and who do not see the field beyond an enterprise for survival and livelihood.
What is clear from the presentation of the quadrangle is that no end is completely good enough to dwell permanently. A scholar must strive to be cerebral and prolific, thereby paying attention to quality and quantity. Inasmuch as one must not be shallow and shoddy in one’s effort at giving a scientific report, a researcher must also keep in mind that his work will not fill the last vacuum in scholarship; hence, he does not have to take forever to report his findings.
Also, the need to climb the ladder should not be a reason to pay less attention to detail and systematic procedure in research works.
In a nutshell, let us keep publishing; not only that we may not perish, but also to appreciably improve the fortunes of humanity.
Dr. Bamgbose is a lecturer in the Department of English, Lagos State University, LASU.
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