A good biblical scholar is discerning. This discernment is exercised at key points in the research process. First, a good scholar chooses worthwhile research projects to invest time in. Time is a limited commodity, so choosing the right project is paramount.
Second, a good scholar chooses the right conversation partners for a given project. There is just too much out there for any single person to read and understand: choosing which books to read (to read seriously) is an important decision. For example, a good scholar will choose to learn from the best teachers, and will interact with the strongest opponent of his or her position instead of a strawman. A good scholar will also be able to recognize and acknowledge side issues, and offer well-reasoned views on them, without being mired down by them.
Finally, scholarly discernment is seen through a well-crafted argument. Time is also a limited commodity for the reader (not just researcher!). A discerning scholar will be able to provide her readers with all of the information and evidence she needs to make her point in the clearest and simplest way possible.
Katie Marcar is a Teaching Fellow in Biblical Languages in the Department of Theology & Religion at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.