#Change11 What is research?

I enjoyed reading this post on research by Brent Roberts:

“So what is research anyway?  Let me answer a slightly different question that my wife’s aunt asked recently as it will help frame the answer.  She asked, “What purpose does research serve?” Now there is probably less consensus on the answer to this question than I’d like, but ultimately, I think the answer is knowledge.  Research is supposed to provide knowledge that can be used by others and hopefully the broader society.  To illustrate, let me describe the number of ways in which the knowledge we generate might be used.

The most common way that the knowledge we create is used is by other researchers.  This is what you’ll hear described as “basic” research because it may or may not have a direct applied purpose.  This is about all most researchers can aspire to.  We are pretty happy if other researchers not only read our work, but also draw on it to inform their research too.  This is important because the knowledge we generate is not only read, but also built upon and extended in meaningful ways by others.  The next way our knowledge is used – and ultimately the way our research will most likely influence society – is through teaching.  Yes, our research hopefully gets incorporated into the classroom because it is summarized in textbooks or our original research articles are assigned as core reading.  In this way, our research forms the material that thousands of students learn in order to make themselves better-informed citizens who hopefully go on to be productive members of society.  Finally, our research might be used for more practical aims like shaping social policy set by State and Federal authorities, informing decisions made by employers or other organizations, or helping practitioners treat illness.”

So resonating.

For me, research is about the exploration and creation of knowledge, and the development of wisdom that reveals the truths.

I think research is the bread and butter of many researchers in educational institutions and consultancy businesses.  It’s also part of every scholar’s aspirations to pursue their life-long quests for knowledge and wisdom.

Research could allow one to climb the knowledge tower, in educational and research institutions.  A researcher could also achieve the pinnacle of fame, through research.




6 thoughts on “#Change11 What is research?

  1. Pingback: #Change11 What is research? | Educación a Distancia (EaD) | Scoop.it

  2. Hi, most honorable student of Change11. This are interesting questions, thank you for that.
    “What is research?” is a dangerous question, in my view. Because you will get lost in answering this question. Definitions are never satisfying. Your aunt did ask a better question “what is it for?”
    These questions tend to lead you to circles like: “research is what researchers do” . Or the answer is not answering the question “research is to climb the tower of knowledge. ”
    Happily you do answer this different question: “Why do I like to research?” You write you are happy when your results are used by students or researchers and other people with practical questions. For this direction of questioning brings us to very important questions. Now we want to know what makes that other people do use the products of our research. How do we become better researchers?
    Regards Jaap

  3. Research, even when it doesn’t get used right away (I research future program topis as part of my college job) helps me value things I hear or see. Since I started doing research individual events seem to grow connections. Maybe it’s an obsession to put things in order? Given the disorderliness of my filing system that can’t be true. More like deciding to push the phrase “I don’t know” out of my vocabulary. Not that my goal is to be all-knowing, (well not always anyway) but rather to be curious. A busy-body in an honorable way, so to speak.

  4. Curiosity, as you said, is a wonderful driver to research and learning. Not to be all-knowing. “A busy-body in an honorable way”, that’s resonating.
    I also found a lot of surprises out of researches, that I have never thought about. Is that serendipity?

  5. Research requires a level of open mindedness that might make one prone to moments of serendipity, if that isn’t misusing the word. Some surprises can ruin a perfectly reasonable chain of logic and seem to spoil everything. Yet which is better, to spend hours and hours confirming you were right, or to be in the best viewing position to see something you hadn’t thought of blow your little piece of cleverness right down? The universe seems to favour mistakes anyway so I’ll go for the thrill of being wrong (spectacularly wrong if possible) to being right.

    And of course, some surprises actually work out. Doesn’t that make you a bit nervous?


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