Well, this time, it’s about “information flow” and more about publications.
Actually, good, readable, interesting, quickly published, frequently cited articles begin long before the writing. They start with “a good idea at the time,” which then becomes “your problem,” i.e., an idea that you take ownership of – as opposed to “not my problem”, which one often says, while breathing a sigh of relief. Think about “it” as a combination of project management, information flow, and knowledge management.
The first step is to develop a research plan to solve the problem, which begins by transforming it into a testable hypothesis. In practical terms, that means writing a research protocol in which you set down a title for your investigation, which eventually morphs into your article title.
The protocol needs to have a clear rationale for doing the work (eventually the article’s introduction), a study design with a statistical plan, experimental plan, and expected results – then, as they say – just do it.
Of course, research events often don’t go according to plan. When they don’t, write an addendum to your protocol describing the changes that you made and the reasons you made them. This makes it easier to explain in your (future) article and/or to potential peer reviewers why you did things just the way you did them. It’s also important to show that the primary calculation of study results was planned and not decided on ad hoc.
Finally, if you are not the only author, the protocol ensures that all potential authors are “on the same page” with what is planned and expected.
Project management? It’s concerned with making sure that the protocol is written, the study is completed as close to schedule as possible, and the results are analyzed and compiled into a summary report or notebooks, tables, and narratives that can be “translated” into a publication manuscript.
Information flow? It’s the different ways that you communicate your idea to increasingly more broadly focused audiences, as it moves from its origin as a good idea, through the protocol, study results, and discussion of their significance in your field or in related fields, and in abstracts/scientific posters, and finally the published article.
Knowledge management? It’s mainly about finding, organizing and navigating relevant data – mostly in peer reviewed publications – and building a context that your experimental results are consistent with. The aim is to identify available data within your research and that of others that support your hypothesis, the design of your investigation, the intro, methods, and discussion of your article.