Keyword search vs Abstract search…

The purpose of placing keywords in an abstract is to allow a search engine or another researcher to easily identify main topics in your research. For additional thoughts, see link and link.

As I continue digging through doctoral studies to identify patterns of concern or mistakes, I began reviewing studies from a University that uses a case study method for many students. I’ve identified problems in case studies here and here. I wanted to quickly see how many times the phrase “case study” appeared as a keyword or phrase. Using the R library tidyverse, and two commands (str_detect and table), I found only 4 instances in the keywords:

library(tidyverse)
str_detect(selected_university$keywords, "case study") %>% table()
.
FALSE  TRUE 
  233     4 

However, when I searched for the same string in the Abstract, I found 215 instances.

str_detect(selected_university$abstract, "case study") %>% table()
.
FALSE  TRUE 
   22   215 

This tells me that a specific research design is deemed not important enough to place as a keyword phrase. No problem.

Student Note: Don’t rely on keywords for finding similar types of research designs.

It also tells me that 90% of this University’s DBA graduates in 2019 used the same research design. Did I hear somebody say formulaic?

In writing about formulaic papers in organizational research, Alvesson and Gabriel wrote –

Formulaic papers are the products of a sequence of interrelated codified and standardized practices that involve formulaic research, a formulaic editorial process, formulaic reviewing, and more generally, formulaic mind-sets, that is, formulaic ways of thinking about what constitutes scholarship. Reliance on a formula is in itself not detrimental to quality, especially if the formula has yielded good results in the past. As we shall see presently, however, slavish adherence to formula renders researchers oblivious to potentially interesting possibilities that exist outside the formula,
eliminating the scope for serendipity and accidental discovery that have long been crucial factors in
scientific discovery and technological innovations

Alvesson & Gabriel, 2013, p. 247 (emphasis added)

I don’t have a problem with writing templates or standardized statistical approaches, but when 90% of a University’s doctoral studies relate to case study methodology, and issues have been identified in research from that University relating to the framing and execution of the case study method, what does that say about the quality of the formula?

Reference:

Alvesson, M., & Gabriel, Y. (2013). Beyond formulaic research: In praise of greater diversity in organizational research and publications. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(2), 245-263. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2012.0327

One thought on “Keyword search vs Abstract search…

  1. If the purpose of doctoral research is to add to the body of knowledge and while doing that to confirm the academic background and research capability of a study’s author, this appears to be problematic. Perhaps an easy way out to a degree, but neither the most academically rigorous nor substantial, even briefly, scholarship given your statistics here. This is unfortunate and will reflect on the researchers and the institutions that encourage restrictive research approaches and paradigms.

    Liked by 1 person

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