When you hear someone talking about research, what do you think about?

Does it bring to mind a laboratory with test tubes, beakers, Bunsen burners, and chemicals?  How about an academic, spending years reading books tucked away in the library stacks?  Or maybe a university professor, running experiments, writing papers, reporting results, and developing theories?

Today, I ran across the following sentence that began: “After 10 minutes of research…”

Ten Minutes!?  That’s not years of careful study!  That isn’t decades of reading!

When I hear people talk about their research, it brings to mind a carefully executed plan of study, fully developed on the foundation of the scientific method.  In fact, Wikipedia (the source of all things authoritative) offers this cited definition: “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.”

By this definition, reading for 10 minutes isn’t research…it’s…reading…for 10 minutes.

When someone tells me about their “research,” I immediately jump to my definition.  And in most cases, I am overestimating the effort.  This leaves me feeling a little…inferior…but it really shouldn’t.

If everyone else seems to be researching when you just “read for 10 minutes,” it’s okay.  They probably mean the same think anyway.