A note on conducting research…

Blizzards of emails, swarms of deadlines and papers, baskets of applications, paralysis by administrative needs: all of this
increasingly characterizes Near Eastern Neolithic research. The share of original research on field work and material is
substituted more and more by research made for the stage, reflected by a mass of papers typified by accelerating redundancy
and unsupported guess-work. A paradoxical situation is reached: colleagues produce papers without being able to read others’
publications to a sufficient extent, nor do they have the time to communicate about mutual research. Big research clusters in
some countries absorb energies by (often) misguiding empty keywords (e.g. landscape, space), while it is forgotten that the
major progress and innovation in research mostly results from an ideal combination of two or three individuals operating
with interdisciplinary cooperating. The personal side of all of this can result in elements of masochism among the more
responsible of us, the inability to say “No,” which sometimes leads to health problems, helpless floating with the current, and
the exclusion of those who do not follow the main trend.


The Near Eastern Neolithic family is still small, and this should foster the opportunity to critically counter these common
trends in research and to develop research ethics against Neolithic research deflation. We have to start considering if all
the conferences and workshops are necessary, since they are one source of our academic breathlessness. We have to start
investing more time in research progress and innovation by simply sitting down and doing the job: working on excavated
materials (final publications) rather than publishing more intriguing preliminary ideas with limited material bases. And we
have to start working more sustainably: site hopping, neglected conservation and curation measures, attitudes of non-sharing,
and failure to raise local competency are some of the dangers we face. Each of us is asked to distinguish wisely and carefully
between necessary constraints promoting Neolithic research and constraints produced by following uncontrolled trends in
research and research politics. Let us dare to say “No.”


Hans Georg K. Gebel and Gary O. Rollefson, Editorial to Neo-lithics 2/09, The Newsletter of Southwest Asian Neolithic Research
Recent Posts