What is authentic, scholarly research? • Increases our understanding of a problem (topic) through a process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting information. • Communicated to an authentic audience who would benefit from the findings or research. • Creates new knowledge or answers a question that was previously unanswered.
Is this scholarly research? A student… • Reads many sources on diabetes. • Designs a storyboard based upon what was read. • Creates a film summarizing key points. NO This may demonstrate creativity and skills but does not demonstrate creation of new knowledge.
#1 Research Originates with an Unanswered Question or an Unsolved Problem By asking questions, we ignite a chain reaction, which leads to our research. Sample Scholarly Research Questions: • Are Jefferson’s initial ideas about what constitutes an educated person still relevant and reflected in the curriculum at UVA ? If not, why not? • Why are we seeing an increased number of young people with Type II diabetes, and what can we do to prevent it?
#2 Research Requires Clear Articulation of a Goal • What problem do you intend to solve? • As you research and talk to your advisor or mentor, remain focused on your question/problem. • If your problem already has a solution, why would you research it? • Who benefits from this research? • You would not research a cure for a disease that already had a cure.
#3 Research Requires a Specific Plan • Research is not a blind excursion into the unknown, with the hope that the data will fortuitously turn up. It is carefully planned and outlined in advance. • You must not only identify the goal but also identify HOW you intent on reaching it. • Does data already exist? • Do you have access to the data? • What will you do with the existing data? • How will you collect and interpret your own data?
#4 Research Usually Divides the Problem into Manageable Components • Break the problem down into manageable components. • By breaking down the problem, the research process will not be quite as overwhelming.
#5 Research is Guided by the Specific Research Problem, Question or Hypothesis • Researchers develop hypotheses and theories, testing their validity as they gather data that either supports or does not support these hypotheses. • These hypotheses are perpetually refined or replaced with new ones. • You hypothesize all of the time… If the light in your house does not work, you go through a series of hypotheses, as well as experiments, to determine the origin of the problem and come up with a solution.
Sample Hypothesis • If a student sets out to research whether caffeine consumption is a health problem for teenagers, the student will start with certain hypotheses that will guide the research plan. • S/he may theorize that the proliferation of Starbucks and other coffee houses has increased coffee drinking among teens. • S/he may theorize that teens consume more caffeine from coffee than from soft drinks. • S/he may theorize that affluent teens consume more caffeine than other teens because of the high prices of coffee.
#6 Research Accepts Certain Critical Assumptions • When researching, we make assumptions that are acceptable. • The “assumption” is the information that we think our audience already knows. For example: If astronomers are going to study a particular star to make determinations about its composition, then we must assume that they are competent and have working equipment available.
#7 Research Requires the Collection and Interpretation of Data • After isolating the problem, breaking it into smaller parts and testing some hypotheses, the researcher needs to extract meaning. • The researcher begins to extract meaning by looking at all of the data collected and drawing conclusions or interpreting it in meaningful ways. • The “authentic, scholarly research” is incomplete unless the accomplishments are shared with an authentic audience.
#8 Research Leads to More Research • Research is rarely conclusive. • In exploring one area, another becomes relevant. • Every researcher soon learns that genuine research yields as many problems as solutions. • The more you learn, the more you realize how much information is out there to learn and how much you do not know but need to learn. LIFE IS A JOURNEY OF CONTINUAL LEARNING.