> Jonathan Clarke wrote:
> > Twenty five minutes using the Georef CD-ROMs identified some 136 matches between the
> > terms coal, Carboniferous, Pennsylvanian, Mississippian, Stygmaria, paleosol, seat
> > earth, underclay, and paleosol for literature published in the years 1875-1998.
> How do I get a set of the Georef CD-ROMs?
> > There
> > is thus a considerable body of literature that presents evidence for in situ growth of
> > Carboniferous coals. Even if this interpretation proves wrong, these data must be
> > dealt with before alternative hypotheses are presented.
> I disagree. I think the alternative hypotheses should be forcefully
> presented and the two models allowed to compete in the literature.
It is standard practice in any paper to discuss any previous studies. There are several
reasons for this; to place your paper into the context of earlier ideas, to show the reader
that you are familiar with the literature, and to demonstrate why what is new in your
presentation. This is true even if your research simply confirms earlier studies. It is
much more important when you propose a new interpretation. You have to first demonstrate
why you believe previous interpretations are inadaquate. To do this you need to review the
literature. It is not enough to simply present an alternative. You must give reasons why
your interpretation is superior.