CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Workplace Learning, Volume 23, Issue 1
At a recent external evaluation of research of our unit, we started – for what seemed like the 20th time – the discussion of what really signifies good scientific research. When researching human systems, absolute knowledge is very elusive and difficult to gain. On the other hand, this would not be a good enough reason to not at least to try and follow a scientific method. Real scientific research must always be published; science corrects itself, and later scholars can fill in the gaps which have been left by earlier scientists, as well as correct their errors and misconceptions. But first they must know what the state of the art is. This is what publishing scientific research is for.
In Thomas Kuhn’s famous book on scientific revolutions, he sees science as developing through two mechanisms: standard science, i.e. new pieces of evidence being added to support the accepted main theory; and then the revolutionaries who throw away the existing theory and replace it with a better one. It seems that we have an ongoing tradition here at the Journal of Workplace Learning: for the third year in a row we have started the volume with a collection of “standard science” research articles on workplace learning in different environments. In this issue we have included workplace learning by nurses in home care (article by Solveig Lundgren), then learning in a trade union practice (by Susanne Köpsén) and finally learning as a factor for retention of talented employees (by Natalie Govaerts, Eva Kyndt, Filip Dochy, and Herman Baert). It is nice to recognize familiar author names among these scholars. Here is evidence that science does indeed keep improving itself, as these scholars delve deeper into their field of research to reveal new evidence or to adjust a previous theory.
The final article in this issue is more oriented towards conceptual clarification of a human-capital approach on occupational health and safety (by Imanol Nuñez and Mikel Villanueva). This is an attempt to publish not only standard science, but to publish new thinking. The next issue will include concepts which are increasingly related to learning, with the theme being innovation.
As mentioned earlier, our belief is that a “world theory” (in the words of C. Wright Mills), especially in human sciences, is almost impossible to develop. There are just too many variables to control for. Thus, it also follows that we believe that almost everything is, at least to some degree, situationally and contextually determined. Thus, workplace learning in situation A probably has some features in common with learning in situation B, but also a lot of features differ between these situations. This should guarantee that we need to keep publishing articles of all facets of workplace learning, and that scholars studying workplace learning should be aware of the common theory but also able to see the specific situation and context, plan a study, and report their findings, in order to continually improve this science.
We hope that you enjoy this issue and our 23rd volume, and do keep the submissions coming in.
Sara Cervai, Tauno Kekäle