- That it is not enough to produce research, we must persuade others that our research is interesting, relevant and convincing. If a scientist conducts an experiment in the woods and nobody hears/sees it, then does the research exist? Just a bit. No, you need to persuade others by being clear about the question, by situating where it fits in the broader scheme of things, by justifying the research design, by explaining the research, by developing the implications, etc.
- That research improves when one gets feedback. That getting comments, suggestions, criticisms and such are a crucial part of the process.
The Smart Defense was the second time I presented that, and received very interesting suggestions--so much so that I am now inspired to write the first draft of a paper. Yes, the last presentation (you can see the slides here) was based on some thoughts about our conclusion and then organizing what I thought about Smart Defense. It apparently did not suck too much.
There is more to my desperate desire for attention besides narcissism: that when other folks focus on my work, I tend to learn a great deal and the work gets better. Many folks are critical of the journal/book/grant review processes, which can be flawed, but I do appreciate the comments (well, most of them) that I get along the way.
Of course, I will always cherish the guy who commented on the Irredentism book, saying we didn't go back far enough--not back to 1389 but back to the ancient Egyptians--to understand 1990s Europe.