Six Reasons Why Research Is Important
Finding reasons why research is important seems like a no-brainer, but many people avoid getting involved in research. The lazy, if not mentally drained, student could say, "Not again." And a disinterested academic could just be doing it for promotion purposes. Yet, for those who like to learn - whether or not they are members of a learning institution - doing research is not just an imperative, but a need.
What reasons may drive one to appreciate research and engage in it?
1. A Tool for Building Knowledge and Efficient Learning
Research is required not just for students and academics, but for all professionals. It is also important for budding and veteran writers, both offline and online.
Among professionals and scribes, finding an interesting topic to discuss and/or to write about should go beyond personal experience. Determining either what the general public may want to know about or what researchers want others to realize or to think about can serve as a reason to do research.
The Brain Research Trust acknowledges the importance of research. Undoubtedly, it is crucial to finding possible cures for diseases, as well as how to prevent them. Thus, research becomes a must to ascertain if one’s ideas are supported by previous studies or if these ideas still need proof to be considered as knowledge. An example of this is the 2016 study of several psychologists who examined how sleep affects memory reactivation. In "Relearn Faster and Retain Longer: Along With Practice, Sleep Makes Perfect", they "found 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 repeated practice and sleep improve long-term retention of information". Their findings also emphasize how highly important sleep is to healthy brain function.
Research by The World Bank in 2006 likewise underscored sleep as a key factor of efficient learning or the process of gaining optimal learning using few resources. The study reiterates the role of sleep in: (1) protecting and restoring memory, (2) advanced learning, and (3) enhancing mathematical ability and problem solving. It further notes 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 also recommends the need for research on "the memory capacity of the poor in low-income countries" to enable teachers in helping underprivileged students learn basic skills.
Said studies on the effects of sleep on the human brain are among the many research topics that have already been examined by academics and specialists in various universities and medical institutions. A myriad of research ideas likewise awaits the attention of avid scholars and inquisitive writers. Indeed, research is instrumental in building and improving knowledge, as well as in facilitating efficient learning.
2. An Aid to Business Success and Job Search
Research has a vital role in business. Many successful companies, such as those that produce consumer goods or mass-market items, invest in research and development or R&D. Different business industries with science and engineering processes like agriculture, food and beverage, manufacturing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, computer software, semiconductor, information and communication technology, construction, robotics, aerospace, aviation, and energy have high R&D expenditure because it is critical to product innovation and to improving services.
R&D also helps secure a vantage point over competitors. Finding out how to make things happen and what could differentiate them from others that offer similar products and services can raise the company’s market value. Certainly, having relevant knowledge in achieving a good commercial image through sound business strategies like investing in R&D can boost its profitability.
In addition, R&D in various firms and industries is essential to supporting a country's economy. For instance, the United Kingdom's Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), now known as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, used to publish an annual R&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 was last produced in 2010.
For those looking for a job or for greener pastures, research is likewise a necessity. Through this process, not only will the unemployed increase their chances of finding potential employers either through job posting sites or employment agencies, but it can inform them if work opportunities are legitimate. Without research, the gullible, yet hopeful jobseeker or migrant worker may fall prey to unscrupulous headhunters who might be involved in illegal recruitment and/or human trafficking. Indeed, doing research can help make important decisions that can affect one's life and future.
3. Means to Understand Various Issues
Television shows and movies ooze with research - both on the part of the writer(s) and the actors. Though there are hosts who rely on their researchers, there are also those who exert effort to do their own research. This helps them get information that hired researchers missed, build a good rapport with the interviewee, and conduct a good interview in the process.
For their part, some film and TV actors would take time to interview detectives, boxers, scientists, business people, criminals, and teachers, among others. Others would even immerse themselves in situations that would make them understand social and personal issues like living behind bars or in a drug rehabilitation center. Many would read literature, biographies, or journals to have a better view or context of the story.
As what Terry Freedman says 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 imaginary and non-fictive tales also do research because doing so helps them create a good story and/or achieve strong credibility as an academic.
4. A Way to Prove Lies and to Support Truths
Ever experienced feeling that your mate is having an affair behind your back? Some people would overlook that and say that it's better not to know; others though would take discreet action, hiring detectives to do the work. What does research have to do with that situation? A lot.
Doing research to reveal lies or truths involving personal affairs contributes in either making a relationship work or in breaking away from a dysfunctional one. For the monogamous lot, doing research to disprove or prove infidelity is not simply a trust issue, but a right to find out the truth - unless one's intimate partner has already admitted being polyamorous even before the relationship started. When a person dislikes answering relationship-related questions, including her or his whereabouts, it is better to see that as a red flag and take baby steps to save yourself from what could become a more serious emotional mess later.
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 - and not just quantity - of their research. Nonetheless, not everything scientists come up with get accepted or learned by everyone, especially when factors like religion, state suppression, and access to resources and social services (e.g., education and adequate health programs) either feed the poor majority with lies or deter them from knowing truths to preserve the status quo.
Professional and credible journalists undertake thorough research to establish the veracity of their stories. The movie "Shattered Glass" shown in 2003 tells the rise-and-fall story of a real-life journalist who used to work for the long running The New Republic based in New York City. Sans investigative research done by fellow journalists, Stephen Glass could have written more fictitious pieces for said editorial magazine.
With the use of 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 "scoops" posted online:
- An FBI agent believed to be 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 To Drop Out Of The 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 a US presidential candidate. His statement in support of 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, serve as the source of news for over 60 percent of adult Americans (Chang, Lefferman, Pedersen & Martz, 2016). Besides the platform, fake news have become profitable for pseudo journalists whose main goal is to attract reader clicks that lead to Google Adsense revenues.
Fact-checking to know the truth is integral to the process of research, for it is fueled by an inquisitive and critical mind. 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 nor do they avoid doing research. They eschew propaganda and have no intention of misleading the public. They are messengers of truth, not lies.
5. A Seed to Love Reading, Writing, Analyzing, and Sharing Valuable Information
Research entails both reading and writing. These two literacy functions help enable computation and comprehension. Without these skills, it is less likely for anyone to appreciate and get involved in research. Reading opens the mind to a vast horizon of knowledge, while writing helps a reader use her/his own perspective and transform this into a more concrete idea that s/he understands.
Apart from reading and writing, listening and speaking are also integral in conducting research. Interviews, attending knowledge-generating events, and casual talks with anyone certainly aid in formulating research topics. They can also facilitate the critical thinking process. Listening to experts discuss the merits of their studies helps the listener to analyze a certain issue and write about such analysis.
With the wide array of ideas available, scholars and non-scholars involved in research are able to 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 studies about certain issues or situations.
6. Nourishment and Exercise for the Mind
Curiosity may kill not just the cat, but the human as well. Yet, it is the same curiosity that fuels the mind to seek for answers. The College Admissions Partners (n.d.) notes how scientific research in particular "helps students develop critical reasoning skills...helpful for any field of higher education..." Such search or the thinking process is food for the brain, allowing creativity and logic to remain active. It also helps prevent mental illnesses like Alzheimer's.
Indeed, research and doing research encourage people to explore possibilities, to understand existing issues, and to disclose truths and fabricated ones. Without research, technological advancement and other developments could have remained a fantasy. Reading, writing, observing, analyzing, and interacting with others facilitate an inquisitive mind's quest for knowledge and efficient learning. Research serves as an instrument to achieve that goal.
Think About This
Do you find research important?
Ways to Improve Research Skills
Are you interested in further developing your ability to do research? There are several steps to do it.
One of the easiest ways to know more about research is to read hard copy and electronic books about it. If you do not have a computer with Internet connection, you can go to the library, a nearby bookstore, or ask a close friend or relative to lend you her/his smartphone or laptop so you could look for books or articles about research.
If you have access to the Internet, you can watch online tutorial videos on this topic. High school students can learn from this presentation, for instance:
Research Basics for High School Students by Journal Storage (JSTOR)
For those who intend to be full-fledged researchers, you might want to attend training-seminars, workshops, and conferences aimed at deepening your knowledge and honing your skills in doing research. These events are conducted by various organizations, particularly universities and "think tank" agencies. Use search engines to look for these opportunities, as well as for scholarships that could help you finance your participation in these activities.
You might also consider searching for reputable researchers in your field of interest, especially if you plan to pursue postgraduate studies. You could email an academic, a scientist, or another professional to inquire about their opinion on your thesis or dissertation topic. Having a research mentor can help you gain a broader understanding of what research is all about.
Another way is to watch films and read different kinds of books, fiction and otherwise. These sources can ignite your curiosity and drive you to seek more information. You might want to jot down notes about the topics discussed and/or what you've learned. You might wonder why this is part of the research process. Watching movies, reading books, and writing various stuff hone your comprehension and ability to analyze. These can improve your vocabulary and aid you in finding your voice as a researcher.
© 2010 Leann Zarah