Can Practitioners write Academic Quality papers?

I've thought about the idea of the AST Journal for some time now. In principle, I really like the idea. One thing that I've worried/wondered about though is the idea of writing a paper that stands up to academic scrutiny (or pretty close to it anyway).

Today, I happened to notice the following Quote Of The Day in the weekly StickyLetter (from
"Science is supposedly the method by which we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. In computer science, we all are standing on each other's feet."
~ Dr. Gerald J. Popek

At first it made me laugh, then it made me wonder about what it would take to write a good paper. I've been reading some good articles and papers on Software Testing lately and if there's one thing I know it's that I don't have the time to do all the required research to produce a really good paper.

I, like perhaps many experienced testers, learned my craft by doing. I picked up ideas here and there over the last 15 years (a conference presentation here, an email thread there, a passing conversation with a colleague or manager, and so on), that when applied I started to notice the patterns of what works and what doesn't. I then began to build up some notion of the importance of contextualisation in my successes and failures.

I've written small snippets of perhaps good ideas and thoughts in the past, and I've communicated some other good ideas during workshops and presentations, and I like the idea of sharing knowledge. One thing I don't think I have the time to do, though, is go through all the previously published material to see who thought of what first. It may be important for research historians, but I don't really believe that I have the time or resources available to me to really do a proper job of it. It almost seems weird or absurd to me from one perspective too.. who thought of it first? "Well, I thought of idea 'foo' all on my own. I can list you all of the experiences, conditions and factors that led to these inferences and the outcomes of the applications of these thoughts. I didn't read the idea anywhere, so how can I attribute the idea to someone else?"

So where would I begin to look in the published literature to reference who actually came up with the same idea or portions of it before me? Or worse. What if to do a really good job of it, you need to reference articles and papers from across various disciplines ( i.e. computer science, psychology, education, engineering, philosophy, sociology, etc.)? That is, what if the profession of Software Testing is really just the centre of a whirlwind of various professions and disciplines all combining into patterns that we each interpret in different ways to successfully complete the tasks before us? How would you know that you've referenced enough people or ideas to do a proper job in your paper?

I just feel so overwhelmed at the prospect sometimes. It's not writer's block.. it's the thought that spending a day or two articulating a few good ideas and the contexts in which they seemed to be successful for me might require weeks of research to support in good academic fashion. And even then, I know I would likely miss some other good referenceable point or idea or person.

Is it possible to do a good job writing a good paper and still have a day job? Perhaps. Is it possible to do a good job writing a good paper and still have a life? I don't think I could. Maybe we all are standing around on each others feet sometimes. So how do we get past this? How do we turn all this information into knowledge so that we can have some progress? How do we help the next generation so that they don't have to reinvent all of the same ideas that we've had to discover on our own over the last three decades?

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