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My university only recognizes academic papers as valid intellectual achievements. I would like to get a sense of how many Software Architect's, Software Engineer, Software Developers and/or programmers bother to publish their findings. Or as programmer do you feel your production should have academic merit as well?

(oops!) I guess this is two questions.

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No, but I did in another field before I professionally wrote software –  Carnotaurus Apr 11 '11 at 19:32
    
Published in a recognized academic journal? –  JeffO Apr 11 '11 at 20:38
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xkcd.com/664 –  anon Apr 11 '11 at 21:00
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Its all about Benjamins baby. –  Job Apr 12 '11 at 1:32
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I suspect your assessment of your university is a bit unfair. There are plenty of intellectual achievements in University; publications are one, but so are field recognition, presenting at conferences, leading workshops, and producing quality grad students. Academic papers, however, prove that you can adequately explain and defend your ideas, and are a good place to build from. –  Alex Feinman Apr 12 '11 at 14:36
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7 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Or as programmer do you feel your production should have academic merit as well?

I don't think it needs to, because (ideally) software development is mainly an engineering discipline.

Engineering disciplines are about building working solutions in the real world.
In contrast, research disciplines are about providing correct knowledge within an isolated scope.

These two things are largely orthogonal, however the former requires the latter for quality, and the latter the former for actual harnessing.

Now if somebody really claims your work isn't an intellectual achievement, based on its nature and not on its quality, then they are just arrogant or ignorant or both. If they say it isn't academic, then they are probably right, unless it's only a matter of some stupid formality.

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Yes, I Totally agree with your sentiments. It just because I work for an academic institution that they do not recognize the "Engineering" achievements of my colleagues and myself. And as @job implies show me the money –  Sydwell Apr 12 '11 at 7:15
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As many have noted elsewhere, the priorities of a developer and a computer scientist are quite different. The academic setting requires much more rigorous filtering, than non-academic. There is no problem with this. Stackexchange or blogs seem to be a much better medium for most software developers to "publish" and exchange knowledge. These platforms provide a more dynamic and flexible place that fosters faster discussion (which is important to people who do not get paid to publish). Even though there is less filter (a lot of garbage gets through on the web), even the big guys have a very strong web presence over academic. Look at ScottGu or JoelonSoftware.

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I wouldn't say, software development doesn't require rigorous filtering. It's just that all software developers have to do this filtering individually (while crawling through the garbage), while in academia it is done by central committees. –  back2dos Apr 11 '11 at 21:15
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Why should my regular work be considered an academic achievement? The stuff I do for my employers isn't released for general edification (or at least edification of people who have access to some of the overpriced journals). It isn't carefully researched and attributed, and in many cases it isn't clear what I did and what others did (the Subversion logs tell who checked stuff in, not who wrote it). It doesn't come with proofs of correctness. It undergoes peer review here, but not widespread peer review and certainly not with generally recognized leaders in the field.

If I were writing an academic paper, I'd include a summary of other research, partly for context and partly to establish that my contribution is useful. I'd provide reasons why what I wrote is accurate. I'd be very clear about what my contribution was. It would be made generally available.

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How about a counter argument: Why wouldn't a well researched and implemented (ie. experimented) solution to a problem be considered academic enough to write a paper about? Much of the content of the ai wisdom / game programming gems series of books might qualify. –  Steve Evers Apr 11 '11 at 20:28
    
@SnOrfus: Some programming stuff could be a very good basis for an academic paper, but unless somebody actually writes that paper it's not going to be an academic achievement. –  David Thornley Apr 11 '11 at 20:49
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@SnOrfus: there are tons of things that are paper-worthy out there. But you have to actually write the paper, submit it, get it peer reviewed, edit it, and get it accepted somewhere. That takes work, and is an achievement. To put it another way: Yeah, sure, we know you can head-shot every trooper on the level, but to get the HEAD SHOT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD you have to actually do it. –  Alex Feinman Apr 12 '11 at 14:38
    
@Alex Feinman: I love your analogy. –  David Thornley Apr 12 '11 at 14:43
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Yes, sometimes software developers do collaborate on papers for academic journals relevant to their discipline. Even in engineering, there is sometimes a need for academic rigour.

I have worked for a company which was tasked with producing a machine far beyond anything that had been done in that area before. Part of the process of developing that machine was understanding the science behind it, so we ended up writing papers and attending conferences to talk about the techniques involved and issues we faced.

In fact, just the other day I discovered a paper which referenced the one I helped to co-author back then and it was quite a buzz to realise that work I did years ago is still being found noteworthy today.

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I've done original research (though not in computing) which however no university will ever see as it's property of the legal entity it was performed for, and its publication purely internal.

The same is true for most if not all of the software I've created, no matter what or if it could be considered of scientific interest it's not for the eyes of anyone in acedemia as it's property of those who contracted me (or my employers) to create it for them.

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I have had jobs that involved writing whitepapers with algorithm descriptions and, in some cases, formal proofs of algorithms. Even in these cases though, the papers have either been published on the companies website or released to customers. I've never found a situation where it was beneficial for my employer to pay me to write a paper that would be published in an academic journal, and I imagine that situations where that would be the case are quite rare in the business world.

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No, I have published a few articles in trade publications and am working on a book. (Will be out from O'Reilly in August). But not yet anything academic.

Actually the book was written instead of getting a masters.

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