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7 Reasons Why Research Is Important

Leann is a freelance qualitative researcher. She has been involved in projects related to gender, labor, and other social issues.

Learning to conduct research is an integral part of learning about life. The importance of research cannot be overstated—this article shows you why.

Learning to conduct research is an integral part of learning about life. The importance of research cannot be overstated—this article shows you why.

Why Is Research Important?

The main purposes of research are to inform action, gather evidence for theories, and contribute to developing knowledge in a field of study. This article discusses the significance of research and the many reasons why it is important for everyone—not just students and scientists.

Understanding that research is important might seem like a no-brainer, but many people avoid it like the plague. Yet, for those who like to learn, whether they are members of a research institution or not, conducting research is not just important—it's imperative.

Why Research Is Necessary and Valuable in Our Daily Lives

  1. It's a tool for building knowledge and facilitating learning.
  2. It's a means to understand issues and increase public awareness.
  3. It helps us succeed in business.
  4. It allows us to disprove lies and support truths.
  5. It is a means to find, gauge, and seize opportunities.
  6. It promotes a love of and confidence in reading, writing, analyzing, and sharing valuable information.
  7. It provides nourishment and exercise for the mind.
Conducting research doesn't just arm us with knowledge—it helps teach us how to think.

Conducting research doesn't just arm us with knowledge—it helps teach us how to think.

A Tool for Building Knowledge and Facilitating Learning

Research is required not just for students and academics but for all professionals and nonprofessionals alike. It is also important for budding and veteran writers, both offline and online.

For nonprofessionals who value learning, doing research equips them with knowledge about the world and skills to help them survive and improve their lives. Among professionals and scribes, on the other hand, finding an interesting topic to discuss and/or to write about should go beyond personal experience. Determining what the general public may want to know or what researchers want others to realize or think about can serve as a reason to do research. Thus, research is an essential component in generating knowledge and vice-versa.

Knowledge is commonly described as a factual proposition in an individual's mind. It essentially refers to facts based on objective insights and/or study findings processed by the human brain. It can be acquired through various means, such as reading books and articles, listening to experts, watching documentaries or investigative shows, conducting scientific experiments, and interacting with other people. Facts collected during research can be checked against other sources to ensure truthfulness and accuracy.

Studies and Articles About the Importance of Research

In his article, "Epistemology," Yale University's David Truncellito (n.d.) identifies three kinds of knowledge: procedural (competence or know-how), acquaintance (familiarity), and propositional (description of "a fact or a state of affairs").

Brain Research UK (formerly Brain Research Trust), a medical-research charity based in the United Kingdom, acknowledges the importance of research in building knowledge. It sees research as crucial to finding possible cures for diseases and ways to prevent them. Thus, research is necessary to ascertain whether previous studies support one's ideas or if these ideas still need further proof to be considered knowledge.

An example of one such endeavor is a 2016 study conducted by several psychologists to examine how sleep affects memory reactivation. In "Relearn Faster and Retain Longer: Along With Practice, Sleep Makes Perfect," they discovered that "interleaving sleep between learning sessions not only reduced the amount of practice needed by half but also ensured much better long-term retention. Sleeping after learning is definitely a good strategy, but sleeping between two learning sessions is a better strategy." This study supports the fact that both repetition and sleep improve a person's long-term retention of information. Their findings also emphasize how highly important sleep is to healthy brain function.

A study by The World Bank in 2006 also underscored sleep as a key factor in efficient learning, or the process of gaining optimal learning using few resources. The study reiterated the role of sleep in: (1) protecting and restoring memory, (2) advanced learning, and (3) enhancing mathematical ability and problem-solving. It further noted that "knowledge is better consolidated when people study at the time when they are supposed to be awake rather than, say, late-night sessions." It cited the need for research on "the memory capacity of the poor in low-income countries" to enable teachers to better help underprivileged students learn basic skills.

The effect of sleep on the human brain is just one of the countless topics that academics and specialists have examined in various universities and medical institutions. A myriad of newer and even more specific research ideas likewise await the attention of avid scholars and inquisitive writers. Indeed, research is instrumental in building and improving knowledge and supporting existing knowledge with verifiable facts to facilitate learning.

What Is Research?

A Means to Understand Issues and Increase Public Awareness

Using Research to Understand Current Issues

Television shows and movies—both fictional and nonfictional—ooze with research. For instance, Oprah Winfrey would not have achieved remarkable success as a news anchor and television show host had she eschewed doing her research about certain topics and public figures. According to entrepreneur and lifestyle coach Paul C. Brunson, in his interview with emotional intelligence expert and author Justin Bariso (2017):

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"Oprah spends a disproportionate amount of her time gathering information from communities of people outside of her core (different age groups, social classes, ethnicities, education levels, careers, etc.) and then she shares that information within her community."

This kind of effort shows the necessary role of research in helping others and raising social consciousness.

Using Research to Understand People

Many film and TV actors also take time to interview individuals to understand their roles better. Actors have worked with detectives, boxers, scientists, business owners, criminals, and teachers, among others, to gain an inside understanding of what it's like to have a certain identity. Others even go through immersion to begin to understand their characters' issues better. This might look like living in jail or a drug rehabilitation center for a while, gaining or losing a significant amount of weight, or learning to captain a sailboat. Many read literature, biographies, or journals to have a better view or context of the story they've been hired to tell.

In her 2017 article about Daniel Day-Lewis, Lynn Hirschberg described how the award-winning actor prepared for his role as dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock in Paul Thomas Anderson's film, Phantom Thread. She wrote:

"To become Woodcock, Day-Lewis, who is 60, watched archival footage of fashion shows from the 1940s and ’50s, studied the lives of designers, and most important, learned to sew. He consulted with Cassie Davies-Strodder, then curator of fashion and textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. And for many months he apprenticed under Marc Happel, who is head of the costume department at the New York City Ballet, watching intently and then helping to reconstruct the famous Marc Chagall costumes for a production of Firebird. At the end of the ballet season, Day-Lewis decided he needed to build a couture piece from scratch."

People both within and outside of the entertainment industry have, on occasion, belittled what actors do or even the profession of acting itself. However, professional thespians like Daniel Day-Lewis exert great effort to make their characters believable. Their dedication to studying their roles involves a tremendous amount of research.

Using Research to Create Realistic Fiction and Stories

Many films, theater plays, broadcast dramas, and online videos present stories based on real-life events and problems. A serious writer or content producer sees how vital research is in substantiating the context of the stories they are telling to entertain and educate audiences through different media platforms.

As Terry Freedman opined in "The Importance of Research for ICT Teachers" (2011): "Research can shed light on issues we didn't even know existed, and can raise questions we hadn't realised even needed asking." Thus, almost all writers of both imaginary tales and non-fictive accounts do research, as doing so helps them create good stories and achieve credibility.

Good business is built on sound research.

Good business is built on sound research.

Helping Us Succeed in Business

The Importance of Research and Development (R&D)

Research benefits business. Many successful companies, such as those producing consumer goods or mass-market items, invest in research and development, or R and D. Different industries that involve science and engineering processes (like agriculture, food and beverage, manufacturing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, computer software, aerospace, aviation, and energy) have high R and D expenses because it is critical to the creation and improvement of their products and services.

R and D can also help secure an advantage over competitors. Finding out how to make things happen more efficiently and differentiate a business's offerings from those of its competitors can raise a company's market value.

In addition, R and D is essential to supporting a country's economy. For instance, the United Kingdom's Department of Business Innovation and Skills, or BIS (now known as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), used to publish an annual R and D Scoreboard. The report served ". . . as a benchmarking tool for companies, investors and policymakers" for 20 years. However, due to the UK government's austerity measures, it has not been produced since 2010.

Market Research and Targeted Marketing

Research can also help a company maintain a positive commercial image, retain existing customers, and attract new customers through targeted marketing. Marketing is a type of communication, and for that communication to be effective, businesses need to understand their customers.

This usually happens through market research, which can involve examining psychological studies about consumption, hosting focus groups, beta testing products with a select group of customers, sending satisfaction surveys to existing customers, and researching the business's main competitors, among other strategies. The most successful businesses, large and small, base their product design, service offerings, and marketing communications on insights gleaned from thorough research processes.

What Is Curiosity-Driven Research?

Disprove Lies and Support Truths

Background Research and Private Investigations

Have you ever experienced the feeling that your partner is having an affair behind your back? Some people would overlook this and say that it's better not to know; others would take discreet action, hiring a private detective to find out for sure. What does research have to do with this situation? A lot. Doing research to reveal lies or truths involving personal affairs can contribute to either making a relationship work or breaking away from a dysfunctional one. For the monogamous lot, researching to disprove or prove infidelity is one way to find out the truth.

Field Testing and Peer Reviews

Scientists also deal with research to test the validity and reliability of their claims or those of other scientists. Their integrity and competence depend on the quality of their research. Nevertheless, not everything scientists come up with gets accepted. Scientific work is typically peer-reviewed before being published. This means that when an individual publishes research, it is fact-checked and investigated for common biases, statistical errors, and methodological issues by others in the field before being shared with the scientific community at large.

Professional and credible journalists also undertake thorough research to establish the veracity of their stories. The 2003 movie Shattered Glass tells the rise-and-fall story of a real-life journalist who worked for The New Republic based in New York City. Suppose fellow journalists hadn't debunked his stories as fabricated. In that case, Stephen Glass could have written even more dubious pieces that would have been taken at face value by readers of the publication.

Fact-Checking to Discover Research Bias, Propaganda, and Fake News

With internet technology and social media, pseudo-journalism has become a social concern. Fake news took center stage during the 2016 presidential campaign period in the United States. For instance, Snopes.com, a rumor research site, debunked the following "news stories" posted online:

  • An FBI agent believed responsible for the latest email leaks "pertinent to the investigation" into Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. (Reported on November 5, 2016, by the Denver Guardian)
  • In a final speech to the synod, Pope Francis endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. (Reported on October 26, 2015, by the National Report and USAToday.com.co)
  • Thousands of pre-marked ballots for Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates were found in a warehouse in Ohio. (Reported on September 30, 2016, by the Christian Times Newspaper)
  • Assange: Bernie Sanders was threatened and told to drop out of the presidential race. (Reported on August 29, 2016, by USA Supreme)
  • News outlets around the world are reporting on the news that Pope Francis has made the unprecedented decision to endorse US presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Reported in July 2016, by the WTOE 5 News)
  • After gay club massacre, Phoenix LGBT officially endorses Trump. (Reported on June 13, 2016, by the Gateway Pundit)
  • African-American supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has died after allegedly sustaining gunshot wounds in the aftermath of Friday night's chaos in Chicago. (Reported on March 12, 2016, by the Christian Times Newspaper)

According to Pew Research, social media, especially Facebook, serves as a primary source of news for over 60 percent of adult Americans (Chang, Lefferman, Pedersen, and Martz, 2016). In addition to fueling social media company profits, fake news has become profitable for pseudo-journalists whose main goal is to attract reader clicks that lead to Google Adsense revenue.

Fact-checking to determine the truth is integral to the process of research. Murray, Social News, and UGC Hub (2016) suggest that before news readers share information on social media, they need to assess the integrity of the news source and check for similar news on legitimate media outlets.

Genuine journalists do not rely on imagination for their news reports or avoid doing research. They eschew propaganda and have no intention of misleading the public. They are messengers of useful information—not lies.

Opportunities for success come more easily when we're well informed.

Opportunities for success come more easily when we're well informed.

Find, Gauge, and Seize Opportunities

Research helps people nurture their potential and achieve goals by taking advantage of various opportunities. This can mean securing employment, being awarded scholarships or grants, securing project funding, initiating a business collaboration, finding budget travel opportunities, or securing other little wins.

Using Research to Maximize Job and Career Options

Research is necessary for those looking for a job or seeking greener pastures. With thorough research, individuals can increase their chances of finding employment by scouring job-posting sites and contacting employment agencies. Research can also help inform them if work opportunities are legitimate. Without research, the gullible-yet-hopeful jobseeker or traveling worker may fall prey to unscrupulous headhunters, bogus employment opportunities, or even full-on scams.

Sites like Glassdoor and organizations like the Better Business Bureau allow job candidates to find out what experiences others have had with an employer they are considering or a placement agency they are thinking of using. After finding a free or low-cost academic course or skills-development training, students and professionals can assess their eligibility for certain roles and find out about application requirements and deadlines by conducting additional research.

Using Research to Maximize Investment

Research also benefits civil society and its members. Securing funding for projects and research initiatives is a top concern for those who want to address social issues. However, not all funding organizations accept proposals year-round, nor are they all interested in solving the same social problems. Thus, it is necessary to conduct research to find agencies whose missions match the objectives of particular advocacy programs or social-change projects.

An aspiring business owner can likewise meet potential investors through research. They can examine investor profiles to find a good fit in terms of vision, mission, goals, work ethic, and available capital.

Some hobbies and interests are expensive to pursue. One of these is traveling. For budget-conscious tourists, searching for airfare and hotel promos, discount rides, and cheap markets is undoubtedly a must to maximize the value of their money.

Seizing opportunities can broaden one's social network, raise awareness, or secure the support one direly needs to start a project or a business. Indeed, research contributes to a person's ability to make life-changing decisions. It encourages self-growth, participation in worthwhile causes, and productive living.

Promotes a Love of Reading, Writing, Analyzing, and Sharing Valuable Information

Research for Critical Thinking

Research entails both reading and writing. These two literacy functions help maintain critical thinking and comprehension. Without these skills, research is far more difficult. Reading opens the mind to a vast reservoir of knowledge while writing helps us express our perspectives and transform our thoughts into more concrete ideas that others can understand.

Apart from reading and writing, listening and speaking are integral to conducting research. Conducting interviews, attending knowledge-generating events, and participating in casual talks can help us gather information and formulate research topics. These things also facilitate our critical thinking process, much like reading and writing. Listening to experts discuss their work can help us analyze issues from new perspectives and add new techniques to our information-gathering arsenal.

Sharing Research for Wider Understanding

With the wide array of ideas floating around and the interconnectedness of people and places through the internet, scholars and non-scholars involved in research can share information with a larger audience. Some view this process as ego-boosting, while others see it as a means to stimulate interest and encourage further research into certain issues or situations.

Literacy is integral in improving a person's social and economic mobility and increasing awareness, and research hones these basic life skills and makes learning a lifelong endeavor.

Exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body.

Exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body.

Provides Nourishment and Exercise for the Mind

Critical Thinking and Mental Health

Curiosity may kill the cat, but it also fuels the mind to seek answers. An article by Todd Johnson for College Admission Partners (n.d.) notes how scientific research in particular "helps students develop critical reasoning skills . . . helpful for any field of higher education . . ." The acts of searching for information and thinking critically serve as food for the brain, allowing our inherent creativity and logic to remain active. Keeping the mind active may also help prevent certain mental illnesses like Alzheimer's.

Several studies have shown that mentally stimulating activities like doing research can contribute to brain health. In "Educating the Brain to Avoid Dementia: Can Mental Exercise Prevent Alzheimer Disease?" Margaret Gatz (2005) enumerated research findings that support such a position. However, she also noted that other factors might be involved in averting dementia and related issues. One of these is intelligence. A study involving 11-year-old pupils in Scotland in 2000, for instance, pointed to intelligence quotient (IQ) scores as "predictive of future dementia risk." Gatz opined that clinical trials are needed and that "conclusions must be based on large samples, followed over a long period of time." She further posited: