Sunday, November 25, 2012

Research Methods (Semester Summary)

Research is a lot more than reading or taking miniscule measurements in a laboratory; research amongst social scientists provides scholars and average citizens alike a better understanding of how we operate as humans. With that in mind, this class has been a great adventure albeit on shaky legs. purpose of this class was to design an ethical research project--researcher's choice. To me that is a bit like this photo. The goal is framed but the vastness of the ocean beneath the calm waters belies the magnitude of the project.  The main components of this project were to choose a topic of interest, develop a research question and dig into the literature to uncover what others have already done.  Finally the researcher would devise ethical ways to measure the question and submit the proposed research package for a final grade. No research was to be conducted during this class.

Although I could see other sailboats exploring the ocean I was never close enough to them to feel I had any answers to satisfy my curiosity. At the same time I became more engrossed in my topic of silence and less interested in immediately (or arbitrarily)  assigning an intellectual value for measurement purposes.  It's no secret the class is too demanding for the time allotted and I can live with that. The interesting part is that I do not feel I am anywhere near complete learning on the topic of silence or research. At present I would rather be silent on research methods than violate the truths of silence (finding my own truth in silence) and reflection.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Research Strengths

In my last post (so long ago) I was trying to discover just what research was--my own in particular.  I was supposed to learn research by reading others' research. Now that the class is over I feel slightly more knowledgeable than when I started. However I do wonder if a coherent presentation of what research is is available.

I recently attended a health conference where speaker Daniel Vitalis mentioned when he was learning tough subjects he loved the Complete Idiot's Guides and children's coloring books on the particular subject.  I rather fondly know why these are choice resources for intelligent articulate adults who want to quickly assimilate information (however the research guide is reportedly not savvy enough for graduate students). So, in my own idiot-fashion I am presenting research strengths (or why we should conduct research).

Research Strengths:

  • A centralized storage for past, present and current thoughts on a subject
  • Identifies gaps in current research 
  • Meticulous overview and measurement of very narrow topics 
  • Easy to reproduce and test for yourself
  • Opens dialogue between many diverse thinkers
  • Helps the writer and researcher thoroughly understand a topic
These are the topic strengths I pulled out of the process. I chose a bit of a radical topic which I am still learning about. With all good research there are no easy answers, only approximations. I can say I am closer to understanding my topic but after the confusion of this class I may need more time off to assimilate all that I learned while reading, reading, reading.