Necessary, Unnecessary and Sufficient Conditions
It is the claim of this paper that the judgement and classification of a work as research is a judgement that is made by the audience and is an issue of its reception, rather than being determined by the intention of the “author”. This is because a work must meet a few basic conditions in order to function as research, and these are centred on issues of communication and audience. While the researcher must purposefully position the work, its reception depends upon it meeting these conditions in the opinion of peers. In recent years there has been much debate about these conditions, and in previous papers I have developed arguments from the practical need to acknowledge the conditions set by research funding agencies on researchers. However, more recent papers have moved the argument from production issues concerning the instrumentality of language (Biggs 2002), through issues of the affect of context on interpretation (Biggs 2003), to the role of the audience in determining what constitutes a meaningful question that needs to be addressed, what would constitute a meaningful response to such questions and therefore the methods that would robustly connect one to the other (Biggs 2005). The present paper is a further contribution to the development of an ontology of research based on first principles and it identifies three necessary and sufficient conditions for a work to be research, and contrasts them with one often cited condition that appears to be unnecessary: authorial intention. The necessary and sufficient conditions are dissemination, originality and context. Other requirements such as the identification of an explicit question are regarded as consequences of these conditions.