The Importance and Challenges of Being Interesting


What is the most frequent reason why manuscripts get rejected? Inappropriate samples? Faulty measures? Weak results? In reflecting on my experiences as a reviewer, the most common reason I see for manuscripts not being accepted is the size of the contribution. Every manuscript has its methods-related limitations, and certainly some of these can render even the most provocative idea unpublishable. At the end of the day, however, the publishability of a manuscript often comes down to weighing the inevitable methods-related flaws against its contribution. For the purposes of this discussion, by contribution I am referring to how interesting and provocative the central points of a manuscript happen to be. How inherently interesting an idea is has long been recognized as being important in advancing theory in a given field. Social scientist and philosopher Murray Davis (1971) observed that “a theorist is great not because his theories are true, but because they are interesting. In fact, the truth of a theory has very little to do with its impact” (p. 309). But unfortunately, developing interesting ideas and crafting interesting manuscripts is no simple feat. Here, I offer a few humble suggestions to authors, reviewers, and even editors, regarding their roles in elevating the “interesting quotient” of literature in our field.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Smith2003TheIA, title={The Importance and Challenges of Being Interesting}, author={D. Alastair Smith}, year={2003} }