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I'm currently writing a paper that is based on work that I won't be following up on, as I'm changing career directions. I believe that the work raises a number of questions and ideas for future work, and my program solves a number of the boring problems without getting into the interesting applications. However, I've previously been told that raising an idea in a "Future Work" section effectively 'reserves' that work for me, and it would be considered rude for readers to begin research on those areas.

How can I signal (without flat out saying that I don't care) that I hope others will pick up and run with the ideas I'm presenting?

If it's of any importance, it's a Computer Science paper.

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Just don't write 'We are currently investigating...' –  Matthew G. Jun 11 at 16:13
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«I've previously been told that raising an idea in a "Future Work" section effectively 'reserves' that work for me» -- Nobody ever told me this. I'm a horrible person :( –  Trylks Jun 11 at 17:39
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I always thought of it as "something that someone should do; I think" –  PlasmaHH Jun 11 at 20:14
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You can write: "It seems an interesting problem to..." –  Dan Petersen Jun 11 at 21:14
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I am a mathematician, not a computer scientist, so please forgive a naive question: if you don't plan on doing future work related to the paper, why have a future work section at all? Is it required? (In mathematics ending papers in this way is actually somewhat discouraged. It took me a few years to figure that out.) –  Pete L. Clark Jun 11 at 23:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 32 down vote accepted

I've never heard this about "Future Work". Items that you put in this section are simply things that you are currently considering, and someone else who does them should at least cite your original work. However, anyone who beats you to actually doing the work should be able to publish it.

If you want to make it absolutely clear that you do not intend to work on this material (and, you never know, you might end up going back to it later anyway!), simply call the section "Further discussion" or just "Discussion".

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My favorite is "Open questions". Doesn't directly say that you're not following it up, but lacks the same implications that future work does. –  jmite Jun 12 at 21:29
    
+1. Not only haven't I heard of this kind of "reserving" the topic for oneself, I have seen it in use as a place where one can enumerate the holes in his theory in a manner which saves face: "I developed an algorithm which automatically designs the perfect user interface based on data gained from telepatically reading the stakeholders' thoughts. This paper focuses on the algorithm itself; developing a telepathy method for gathering the data in the field is future work." –  rumtscho Jun 12 at 22:52
    
Doesn't the section "Conclusion" contain the discussions? –  Ooker 2 days ago

"While there is no further research planned by the author, there are several avenues that..."

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Maybe it is just a matter of wording and rather than word it that you are going to do this "Future Work", maybe word it as anyone could do this future work. That way it shows you are thinking ahead (good thing) even though you may not want to do it.

To me, the Future Work would show that someone is thinking and would convince me that this work you have done is beneficial to the field and opens doors to other work.

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I have been told that you should not put your best, novel idea for future research in 'Future Work', you don't give away your state-of-the-art research ideas for free right? Experience teaches me that researchers often put stuff like 'investigate in new industry/product/setting' 'investigate longitudinal' 'go out of the lab and test with secondary data' 'add obvious moderator' 'control for variable Z that we did not account for' in this section.

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For me, if I'm sure that I won't research in this topic anymore, I'll give it for free. –  Ooker 2 days ago

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