The moonlight effect in the research world is the tendency of people to overstate the wisdom, insight and resourcefulness of researchers. It is the inclination to overrate the importance of researchers. Like the moon, people commonly assume that researchers illuminate society with their own knowledge. However, researchers are not the actual sources of most of the knowledge as the moon is not the actual source of light.
In most ‘blue sky’ research, where intellectual ambition is the main motive for research and real-world application of the research outputs is questionable, researchers ‘search and identify’ knowledge. However, in practical research, which is driven by public opinion, the main source of knowledge is the public. The role of the researchers is mainly to transform that knowledge in to a more informative and utilizable form.
While the role of researchers in the generation of knowledge is very essential, assuming that they are the main sources of knowledge is a myth. They are the key actors in the process. Their role should never be understated. However, at the same time, the same need not be overrated. The original sources of knowledge should also be recognized. The Sun is the actual source of the Moonlight.