All sections →
 → Embracing multilingualism to enhance complexity sensitive research Dec 2, 2019 highlights & research & complexity

In this research article, the authors point out that the cycles of translation from English to the language of the context and back again can be costly and inconvenient. But, they point out three benefits to investing in translation and multi-lingual research spaces.

First, the authors argue that disseminating the results of research in local languages not only makes your research accessible to stakeholders, but it also helps stakeholders value all research more. They write:

Translations are expensive and time-consuming, so a large part of our work stays in English unavailable to the local stakeholders, who may have participated in the research process. This is an issue not only because it reduces their possibilities to learn from the systematized outcomes of the processes in which they participate, but because it reduces their perception of the value of research. When stakeholders feel that researchers write exclusively for other foreign researchers, their readiness to support and fund research may decrease.

The second benefit:

Second, academics who don’t read English may find it difficult to continue building on knowledge published only in that language.

This takeaway is obvious. So many publications are translated to English, but the reverse is rare.

Third, and by no means least, naming complex issues or ideas only in English impoverishes other languages. When we forsake finding a word for a particular concept or idea in a given language, we impoverish that language.

This is quite insightful. Language is intrinsic to organizational learning. If the concepts advanced in our research are never introduced to the local language, then it may be impossible for that learning to take root.

The authors recognize a fascinating tension in this work. They demonstrated the possibility of multi-language research spaces via a virtual research commons for their project.

What we have learned from working with different languages and acknowledging them during the full research cycle, including the dissemination stage, is that they are time- consuming, costly and even a bit messy and uncomfortable. For example, in the case of the virtual space above, some participants complained that having to find their own language among texts written in other languages begs an extra effort from them and slows them down. However, the alternative is renouncing inclusion and plurality, which is at odds with the challenge faced by academia to address complex societal problems.

There is a cost to complexity, but solution spaces need to be more complex than the problems they’re resolving.1

  1. See Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety; http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASHBBOOK.html, p. 207↩︎

 → “Level Up”: Leveraging Skill and Engagement to Maximize Player Gameplay Nov 29, 2019 highlights & tech & research & design

We find that high-, medium-, and low-engagement-state gamers respond differently to motivations, such as feelings of effectance and need for challenge. In the second stage, we use the results from the first stage to develop a matching algorithm that learns (infers) the gamer’s current engagement state “on the fly” and exploits that learning to match the gamer to a round to maximize game-play. Our algorithm increases gamer game-play volume and frequency by 4%–8% conservatively, leading to economically significant revenue gains for the company.

As ever with this kind of mechanism, are we sure we want this to exist..? The potential is no doubt powerful. Imagine interactive TV shows that modulate what they’re presenting based on readings of the viewer… Hrm.

 → Beautiful is Good and Good is Reputable: Multiple-Attribute Charity Website Evaluation and Initial Perceptions of Reputation Under the Halo Effect Nov 29, 2019 highlights & research & psychology & design

The halo effect is essentially how positive—but irrelevant—traits influence our perception of what the thing with the halo actually says or does. These authors explored how charities manifest the halo effect on their websites, and find evidence for four varieties of halo effect.

this study employs charity websites as a multi-attribute donation channel consisting of three attributes of information content quality (mission information, financial information, and donation information) and four attributes of system quality (navigability, download speed, visual aesthetics, and security). Based on the proposed framework, this study proposes four types of halos that are relevant to charity website evaluation —collective halo (attribute-to-attribute), aesthetics halo (attribute-to- dimension), reciprocal-quality halo (dimension-to-dimension), and quality halo (dimension-to-dimension)

 → A Systemic View of Research Impact Nov 20, 2019 highlights & academy & impact & research

If academia ceases to have an impact it loses its raison d’être. Impact is what differentiates meaningful academic work from mere busywork. It makes the difference between signal and noise.


Ultimately, the questions that concerns us [are] what role research plays in society and how we can create a research system with impact at its core?

Indeed. We have to be asking (and answering!) questions that matter.

I like this project. Benedikt and Sascha say they’re taking a systemic approach to model the full complexity of academic impact:

academia struggles with creating/measuring/generating impact because it struggles to conceptualise and structurally anticipate it. We are missing a systemic perspective on impact that is grounded in the fact that different forms of meaningful academic work show very different forms of impact.

The work is supposedly semi-open. The authors ask anyone that reads each chapter, released incrementally on Google Docs, to contribute comments, and then they will work to incorporate these insights back into the final output.

Here’s a link to the first chapter.

 → Nobel Economics Prize Goes to Pioneers in Reducing Poverty Nov 20, 2019 highlights & research

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of M.I.T. and Michael Kremer of Harvard have devoted more than 20 years of economic research to developing new ways to study — and help — the world’s poor. On Monday, their experimental approach to alleviating poverty won them the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Dr. Duflo, 46, is the youngest economics laureate ever and the second woman to receive the prize in its half-century history.

Amazing news. Esther Duflo has been a research-hero of mine since Cal Newport profiled her as a story of purpose-finding.

A brief, informal guide to doing grounded theory Nov 18, 2019 articles, research, theory & analysis Grounded theory is an approach to analyzing data by letting the powerful and important insights in the data emerge through deep, iterative reading. ▵