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Promoting novelty, rigor, and style in energy social science: Towards codes of practice for appropriate methods and research design

A series of weaknesses in creativity, research design, and quality of writing continue to handicap energy social science. Many studies ask uninteresting research questions, make only marginal contributions, and lack innovative methods or application to theory. Many studies also have no explicit research design, lack rigor, or suffer from mangled structure and poor quality of writing. To help remedy these shortcomings, this Review offers suggestions for how to construct research questions; thoughtfully engage with concepts; state objectives; and appropriately select research methods. Then, the Review offers suggestions for enhancing theoretical, methodological, and empirical novelty. In terms of rigor, codes of practice are presented across seven method categories: experiments, literature reviews, data collection, data analysis, quantitative energy modeling, qualitative analysis, and case studies. We also recommend that researchers beware of hierarchies of evidence utilized in some disciplines, and that researchers place more emphasis on balance and appropriateness in research design. In terms of style, we offer tips regarding macro and microstructure and analysis, as well as coherent writing. Our hope is that this Review will inspire more interesting, robust, multi-method, comparative, interdisciplinary and impactful research that will accelerate the contribution that energy social science can make to both theory and practice.


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