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Collaborative research and the emotions of overstatement: four cautionary tales but no funeral

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Collaborative research has grown remarkably in social science, bringing many benefits. Arguments for collaborative research are sometimes overstated, however, and this risks counterproductive consequences. In particular, the presentation of how collaborative research relates to other approaches to research may be problematic. Four issues are explored, concerning the potential consequences of: paying insufficient attention to history; conflating different and better; advancing simplified accounts of complex issues; and courting conflict. These discussions relate to cautionary tales involving diverse emotions: hope and disappointment, pride and shame, love and anger, and hubris and humility. All are variations on the theme that exaggerating a case can unintentionally hamper rather than assist the achievement of high quality, socially useful research. The conclusion advances a methodological pluralist stance, treating collaborative research as one option available to researchers rather than an inherently superior approach, thereby encouraging mutual tolerance and constructive dialogue while reducing the risk of reigniting oppositional ‘paradigm wars’.
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Keywords: collaborative research; emotions; methodological pluralism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: January, 2020

This article was made available online on January 10, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Collaborative research and the emotions of overstatement: four cautionary tales but no funeral".

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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