benefits of the typical research paper were that:
- the contribution to the state-of-the-art is clear (what did you invent?);
- we can quickly quantify the value of the contribution (how well does it work?).
an alternative recipe that should produce more interesting research papers:
- Pick any process followed by practitioners or by nature. How do human beings or ants solve a given problem? What heuristics do successful engineers follow?
- Explain, model or reproduce the process in question.
Look at how the best programmers work. They have many clever tricks (algorithms, processes, strategies) that you will never find in any textbook. Sometimes these tricks work unreasonably well. But we have no explanation.
Great thoughts on ways to pick research projects that are fundamentally different than current approaches. Practically, how will these sort of outside the box research projects get funded? What ways can the current review process change to incorporate both incremental improvements, which are also useful, and these types of experiments with more risk and reward?