The Success of Failure

We’re a positive bunch of people over at SSRN. We’re here to help researchers succeed and thoroughly believe in our mission. So, why has had our managing director recently been touting the benefits of failing faster?

To those of us who have read about the concept of taking pride in failure, its logical. Unsurprisingly, this has been a common thread in several SSRN culture books. Failure can be a good indicator of innovative thinking and risk taking. There are always lessons to be learned in failure, and those lessons could be the ticket to the next great success. That’s the feel-good answer, but failing without wasting time could be pivotal to a researcher painstakingly working on a paper that isn’t material for immediate publication.

We love research, but reality proves that not every paper turns to gold with the right touch. Not every paper is destined for a top journal. There’s a myth floating around that early stage sharing could hinder publication. Rather, sharing early could be key to finding and promoting the right content.

It might be disappointing, but having a paper that isn’t right for publication isn’t the end of the world. The topic might not be relevant. It might need a more focused thesis. Maybe there’s another article circulating in that field that’s taking priority. All of these things are valid concerns that aren’t worth wasting your time over.

SSRN likes to help researchers create “new, innovative research faster”. Part of how we we accomplish that is by crowdsourcing ideas and feedback within a field, or related fields. If the topic of your paper has been covered already you’re going to find that out a lot faster by posting it to SSRN than if you lock it up in a word doc on your computer. How many drafts do you think that’ll save you? Maybe your paper doesn’t cover a topic that is interesting to a wide enough audience. You’ll see that as a result on SSRN before you flush away time that could be better spent focusing on another idea.

Nobody likes to fail and admitting that you have failed can be disheartening. It’s still better to collect your lessons and move on. How else can you land on success?  If you enjoy project management strategies, think of your research network as a way to make your paper more agile on its way to publication.

What steps do you take to make your pre-published papers better? Do you go straight from the desktop to the journal? How can failing faster help you? Comment below, or submit your papers to see how sharing early stage papers can help improve them.

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