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.
2 Responses to “Research” Intimidation? An Exercise in Word Selection
Jean Burgess says:
Okay, you got me. But I will admit that I never research a newsletter article, blog or even a quote for a promotional piece for only 10 minutes. I do thoroughly research my pieces – for weeks, cite my work and look for at least 2 or 3 different sources on the topic. I’m cranking out weekly blogs, monthly newsletters, informative social media posts (at least I hope so), but I do try to adhere to some professional and academic standards. But I agree: 10 minutes does research make!
Chris Allport says:
Thanks for chiming in! My intent was not to pick on anyone for liberal use of the word “research,” but rather to make a point about word selection. If everyone else is “researching” and you’re just “reading,” that doesn’t make you less effective. Sometimes I need these little reminders.