At its most basic level, research is anything people have to do to find out something they didn’t already know. That definition might seem simple and obvious, but it contains some key assumptions that might not be as obvious. Understanding these assumptions is going to be essential for success in college and after college
First, research is about acquiring new information or new knowledge, which means that it always begins from a gap in someone’s knowledge—that is, something he/she doesn’t know. More importantly, research is always goal-directed: that is, it always begins from a specific question needing to be answered in order to accomplish some particular goal. For people who are focused and driven, this approach will seem obvious because they are already quite aware that they need to find information to accomplish their goals. For people who are more laid-back and open to whatever experiences life brings them, they may not be as conscious of being a goal-directed finder of information. However, most students are not quite aware of how integral research is in their own lives.
Reflection Journal #3: What Research Have I Done Lately?
What information have you had to research lately (within the last couple weeks). Include both “school” and “out-of school” researching. Try to list as many moments as you can think of, no matter how short and unimportant they might seem.
After you have brainstormed, respond the following questions in a thoughtful, organized, and clear manner:
- What was your purpose in finding these pieces of information? Did you read for information, to pass a test, for enjoyment, to decide on a product you wanted to buy, and so on? Or, did you read to figure out some complex problem that keeps you awake at night?
- You have probably come up with a list of different purposes. How did each of those purposes influence your research strategies? Did you ask questions, search the Internet, use the library’s databases, examine articles, use a dictionary, etc.?
- What did you do with the results of your research? Did you use them for some practical purpose, such as buying a new product or finding directions? Did you use them for a less practical purpose, such as understanding some topic better or learning something about yourself and others? Did you use the information for a class project?