What does it mean for research to be “highly incremental”?
When research is described as "highly incremental," it means that the research builds upon existing knowledge or discoveries in very small steps or stages. Rather than representing a significant breakthrough or a revolutionary change in understanding, highly incremental research often focuses on a very specific aspect of a larger problem or topic, making only a minor contribution or a slight advancement to the field. Here are a few key aspects of highly incremental research: 1. **Narrow Focus**: Highly incremental research often has a narrowly defined scope. It might investigate a precise variable or a particular aspect of a theory or phenomenon. 2. **Building on Previous Work**: This type of research typically does not seek to challenge established theories or paradigms but rather to add to them or refine them in some way. 3. **Gradual Progress**: The advancements made in highly incremental research are usually small and may seem trivial when viewed in isolation. However, over time, these small increments can collectively lead to significant advancements. 4. **Attention to Detail**: Researchers conducting incremental research may pay close attention to details that may be overlooked in broader studies, thereby adding depth and precision to the understanding of a topic. 5. **Potential for Cumulative Effect**: While any single piece of highly incremental research may not be groundbreaking, the cumulative effect of several incremental studies can be substantial, leading to a fuller and more nuanced understanding of a subject. 6. **Publication Strategy**: Scholars who engage in highly incremental research might publish more frequently, with each publication focusing on a minor advancement. This can be seen in fields where there is a high value placed on publishing regularly. 7. **Criticism and Debate**: Highly incremental research may be criticized for not being sufficiently innovative or for contributing to a large volume of literature with limited impact. Conversely, it is also often defended for its role in steadily pushing the boundaries of knowledge. In summary, highly incremental research is characterized by its small-scale contributions that build upon existing knowledge. Though individual pieces of such research may not be earth-shattering, they are important in the collective progression and refinement of scientific inquiry and understanding.