OPINION16 September 2009

Research’s Greatest Thinker

I’ve been chewing over some ideas for a potential session at next year’s annual conference, and truth to tell, you may be of assistance.

I’ve been chewing over some ideas for a potential session at next year’s annual conference and you may be of assistance.

One idea in particular has tickled me. You may remember some time ago that the BBC ran a competition to find The Greatest Briton. Celebs were signed up to choose a public figure and then fight the case for them on TV. Each celeb had an entire programme to showcase the talents of their chosen historical figure and then, after all the presentations had been made, the viewers got to vote on their choice.

In a fit of unbridled originality I have decided to rip off this idea for the delegate’s viewing pleasure.

I am in search of names for Research’s Greatest Thinker. But here’s the catch. It can’t be anyone still alive. And it can’t be a researcher. Easy, no? I’m looking for you to nominate historical, or even fictional figures who you believe, made a major unknowing contribution to the research world and to research thinking. Here are a couple of admittedly toe-curling examples. You could nominate Sherlock Holmes for his ability to glean penetrating insight from the most unpromising research findings, Charles Babbage for his services to data analysis, or Socrates for the development of interviewing technique. If your toes haven’t quite poked though the top of your shoes, you may wish to add to the pool of names.

I quite like the idea of putting together a session where eight or so research folk nominate and make the case for their research thinker of choice. Researchers will have around five minutes or so to win the crowd over, using a range of multimedia methods, powers of persuasion and passion.

Fancy making a stand? Add your thoughts to the thread below.


1 Comment

11 years ago

I like this idea. Maybe you could also borrow that format where people debate the merits of a living legend and a dead one (Malcolm Gladwell versus Roland Barthes or whatever)....!

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