I have developed a method that gives similar results (in few cases: better) compared to existing methods and I want to publish it. Can I do this and if yes, how do I motivate it? More specifically:

I am a undergraduate researcher, investigating methods to detect X in images. We have a solution using two images and another method proposed in the literature before also used two images.

Recently we discovered that we can solve the same problem in a very different manner if we use three images (taken differently) and still get similar results. This technique will be based on a particular observation and it is not discussed in the literature. Does it make a good paper given that the problem can be solved using two images with similar results?

How should I write and explain it in my paper about why I am using three images instead of two, because the results obtained are similar? The way in which the three images are taken is different from taking two images and our observation in the three-image-case seems to be novel.

Edit (from comment): In some cases our previously proposed method which uses 2 images gives inaccurate results compared to 3 image solution.

  • 3
    It's hard to say anything without knowing more of the field. Are images easy to come by in this situation? Is capturing an image cheap (e.g. consumer products) or challenging (e.g. distant astronomy features). Is this a mostly theoretical paper where you're trying to just propose a novel idea or is it attempting to solve a more real-life issue? Regardless of the answers, this seems like a good question for your adviser or a more experienced researcher in your group.
    – Ric
    Dec 4 '15 at 19:27
  • 1). Capturing images is cheap. 2). Paper is not theoritical, implementation is done and results will be shown. 3). It is a real life problem while taking images.
    – kunal18
    Dec 4 '15 at 19:41
  • Is there any advantage (such as higher accuracy, more confidence of results, ...) in using 3 instead of 2 images?
    – mdd
    Dec 4 '15 at 19:53
  • 5
    I believe this inaccuracy (even if it is only in some cases) is something that you could focus on in your new paper. In case your new method with 3 images can eliminate it in a substantial number of cases, I think you have a quite convincing paper.
    – mdd
    Dec 4 '15 at 20:02
  • 1

As your three-image method takes a new approach, it is novel in the academic sense: It adds to the existing knowledge. Thus you should be able to publish a paper on this, though probably not in a high-ranking journal (unless you blatantly underestimated the advantages of your method). The rationale for this is the following and you may use it to motivate your method in your paper: Your new approaches may inspire other methods which in turn may drastically outperform existing ones or yield entirely new information.

You could write the paper directly in this tone, not focussing on the method you are presenting but on the fact that you can extract the information your method (and the others) yield in a new way. In this context, you may consider not presenting your method primarily as a method, but as a way to verify your approach to extract the existing information.

You might get bonus points, if you actually have suggestions how to improve your method to outperform the existing ones.


Anything that is considered novel in literature can be published. This includes methods that doesn't exceed the performance of that of the state of the art. Eg. PLOS ONE Journal welcomes research including negative results.

Just make sure that the method yow are to propose isn't so obvious in application to your research problem. This should be done with appropriate literature survey. Also make sure you go through the Journal guidelines and consult with the publisher/editor prior to manuscript submission.

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