Research 101: What is Research?
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
Science is, in its bare essence, the search for truth. In a universe full of so many mysteries and so much uncertainty, any answers we can discover about our world provides at least some understanding about the purpose of our lives.
But how do we actually find this truth?
Research is the implementation of a process that humans have developed to systematically identify truths of the world. To conduct research, we utilize the scientific method:
1) Observing the world around us
2) Creating hypotheses based on observation
3) Testing those hypotheses
4) Drawing conclusions
The best researchers maintain the following qualities: Objectivity, Open-mindedness, and Genuine Curiosity.
When developing and testing hypotheses, it is crucial to be aware that every human (yes, even you!) will have their own inherent biases based on lived experiences. Often when we develop a hypothesis, it is because we want that hypothesis to be correct in order to validate our current way of thinking. However, a necessary component of being an ethical and accurate researcher, is the ability to remain objective; we do this by collecting and analyzing data in such a way that allows us to test alternative explanations.
As researchers, we must be open to accepting that our initial hypotheses may not be accurate. In order to remain objective as we explore our research questions we must be as open to evidence that contradicts our hypothesis as we are to the evidence that supports it!
3. Genuine Curiosity
Research is used and implemented in a wide range of subject areas. In fact, few researchers are strictly studying the universal laws of nature. Most researchers are looking for repeating patterns within a small domain of interest, whether it be in economics, psychology, environmental science, or engineering. While these different fields tend to generate different types of research questions , there is often one commonality-- the most successful researchers are ones who explore questions they are genuinely interested in. If you are devoting your life to studying a field, you might as well be enthusiastic about it. By being genuinely curious and excited about what you are studying, research will invigorate rather than tire you. Additionally, being genuinely curious about a topic will inevitably lead to more in depth and dynamic questions about the topic that you study!
With these above skills, combined with passion for what you choose to research, you can begin make some sense of the world that we live in, to create a better future world!