One major issue with social research is that no one knows what is happening. Our results are only as good as our ability to present those results. Below is a look into my research experience this semester inlcuding what I have learned, improved on, and what I think it means to “think like a researcher.”
My process for doing academic research has changed dramatically since the beginning of this course for mainly one reason. That reason being, at the beginning of this course, I didn’t know how to accurately execute research. From personal experiences at Longwood University, it is often expected that students already know how to conduct research. In previous courses, I have picked up pieces here and there on how to locate and read existing research, but before this course never had I learned how to conduct research in the way my peers and I have with Dr. Pederson. We started from scratch creating our own research beginning with the research question with a different focal point for each student, creating the questionnaire and its components, identifying independent and dependent variables, coding, as well as the quantification and qualification of the data received. I also have more of an understanding and appreciation for social research since this course. I have already used the skills acquired in this course in other courses I am enrolled in. Since learning how to accurately execute academic research, I feel as if I am a better researcher, writer, and student overall.
When accumulating sources for research assignments, you must be particular about what sources are chosen to represent the data you are presenting. I decided which sources to use and which not to use based on the characteristics of an effective literature review. I based it on an effective literature review because the review is a critical look at the existing research that is in support or a critique of the data you are researching. I decided if a source was worthy of being added to my research if it was a peer-reviewed academic source, its relevancy, and its reliability. I kept the original sources I chose at the beginning of my research and only expanded on the previous information from specific articles in my annotated bibliography.
All researchers encounter challenges but the challenges my peers and I faced were specific to the topic of research we were conducting. The Coronavirus reared its head in late 2019 and hit global pandemic status in early 2020, so the research we were conducting and articles in support or against our data were very new to all academic levels. I overcame this challenge by cross referencing articles that backed experiences happening because of COVID-19 with experiences also brought on by crisis such as Hurricane Katrina. There were parallels drawn in topics such as mental health, isolation, and the importance in the presence of community during a crisis.
My attitudes and perceptions about doing research have changed over the course of this semester in two ways, conducting my own research and comprehension level of research that has already been written. As mentioned earlier, prior to this course I had no idea how to conduct your own research or how much labor and editing it required. A specific instance where my attitudes and perceptions significantly increased was when I was conducting research for a different course I am enrolled in and knew how to navigate the article and its findings with such ease. Not only could I navigate the research, I actually understood the entirety of the article specifically the quantitative findings. This has opened up a new world of research for me and I already feel as if I am a better academic researcher and writer since being enrolled in this course.
What I think it means to “think like a researcher” is to think with precision and accuracy within the data received but to also have the ability to interact with subjects you are acquiring the qualitative data from, meaning individuals. Thinking like a researcher also requires critical thinking skills and high attention to detail. Researchers have the ability to create new ideas and view the research from multiple perspectives and not forming or acting on any biases.