Successes & Failures

Issue 5
About the Issue

This 5th issue of SPARK takes the theme of successes and failures. Pathways to success are often talked about and the contributory factors scrutinized. By contrast, science journals in particular have historically been criticized for omitting to publish on failures (or negative findings). Yet how success and failure are defined depends on the nature of the goal or objective being pursued and there is much that can be learned from both.

This edition focuses on overcoming obstacles, understanding adversity, and reflecting on progress and learning, through diverse examples in a variety of settings. In keeping with the Journal’s aim of including broad, interdisciplinary content, the papers featured approach the theme from multiple disciplinary standpoints; critically revisiting past interpretations and questioning present practice. Together the papers illustrate how readings of ‘failure’ can change over time and how important an understanding of past successes and failures is in strengthening future research approaches.

The papers range from reflections on individual experiences of success and failure when mastering a new skill (see Judge & Punch’s paper on learning bridge), to an analysis of a First Nation’s responses to colonisation in the 17th-19th Centuries (see Maron’s paper on the Beothuk in Newfoundland). The papers also raise important points related to perspective; highlighting not only how some perspectives are less visible in research (see for example the papers by Hodgson and Hatch, which look at the position of children and young people in historical and contemporary research respectively), but also how critical adopting new knowledge and perspectives can be in achieving success (see for example the paper by Pluviano on vaccines promotion).

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