December 28, 2017

Why "failures" are important

Success and Failure road sign image

Earlier this year I attended the annual Southwest Educational Research Association conference. I was fortunate to attend a discussion led by Dr. Tony Onwuegbuzie. Many of you probably do not recognize this name, but he is without a doubt one of the most important members of the research community in terms of research design. Why? Well, for example, his work on Mixed Methods research, as a research paradigm, has been cited almost 50,000 times since the beginning of the century. Okay, you say, he is well cited. Big deal, anyone can get cited a bunch of times. Really? Try to get your work through the peer-review process for a number of decades, in any area of research, and then come back to me. But more than the number of times being cited has led me to this blog. Continue reading.

Why do I bring Dr. Onwuegbuzie up, now? Because of that discussion he led and our first "failures" as a group. During his discussion, Tony did not focus on the success of his most cited article, Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come; but rather, he focused on the failures associated with that article. He spoke of the years spent working on that particular article, the first couple of rejections he received, as well as the 10th and additional rejections. Throughout the discussion, he reiterated the point that he believed in the article, believed the article was needed, and believed that the article would be important to his field. His "failures" in getting that article published only worked to solidify his beliefs, not diminish them. Yes, STEM-VRSE will experience some "failure" on its path. But "failures" are important. Those "failures" work to solidify our position on why we do the things we do. They push us to succeed in spite of the missteps along the path.