Daniel Lemire's blog

, 1 min read

Are your research papers telling original stories?

Life is multidimensional. Research papers should be multidimensional too! We should ask several interesting questions. We should give several nuanced answers. We should expect more from the reviewers and the readers!

Yet, in Computer Science, research papers are expected to tell the following story:

  • We consider problem X;
  • other people solved problem X with solution Y;
  • we propose solution Z;
  • we show that solution Z is better than solution Y.

It makes the job of the reviewer easy: (1) the contribution is clear (2) we can quickly quantify the value of the contribution. The more competitive the conference or journal, the more often we see this Z-is-better-than-Y story.

I submit to you that these research papers are the equivalent to the movies Hollywood producers like so much:

  • Bad guy creates a problem;
  • good guy comes in, beats the bad guy, fixes the problem;
  • good guy gets the girl.

Similar B movies can be repeatedly produced without any new insight. These movies are easy to follow. They are also quickly forgotten.