Research – The Dreaded Foe

Committing to research, whether it be academic research or research in other areas, is no joke. It takes time, requires considerable effort and let's face it, it can be rather boring at times.

This being so, we do, however, ‘do’ research a lot more often than we think. For example, when you want a new cellphone, what do you do? You research different prices, features and plans. When you want a new car, what do you do? You'll research colours, specifications, fuel consumption and finance options. When you want to go on holiday, what do you do? Research.

Ok, so we research in everyday life without even knowing it, so why then is it so much more difficult to motivate ourselves to do some ‘serious’ research?

Human nature perhaps? The minute we realise that we are actually expending effort on something that is not quite as tangible as say a new and fun cellphone, then we tend to find the research process an uphill battle. Maybe it’s a case of changing our attitude to research, particularly academic research. I find academic research tedious and unnecessarily time-consuming at the best of times, so changing that attitude is not going to be easy.

I know a few people who love to research: anything and everything! This again is just another extreme that we should avoid, unless you really have a passion for it. ;-)

There are many guides out there proposing how academic research should be undertaken and all the methods that accompany such research are usually expounded ad nauseam in these texts. This does not help the cause of liking research much. And these methods could sometimes prove to be more confusing than helpful.

For me, research is personally a love-hate relationship of the worst kind. Research is the scorned lover when you keep ignoring its existence. It (or rather the lack of ‘it’) sits in the corner (in the form of untouched books and manuals), taunting you with its flirtatious stares and then leaving you unsatisfied when you don’t give it the attention it deserves. If you leave researching something long enough, it’s hate for you will build up to the point of no return (well almost) and will make you do double the work in half the time. (Ok, I admit, it’s probably your own fault, but still …)

Then there’s the other side of the scale, where the research experience is like a picturesque mountain setting with the clichéd babbling brook running at its foot though a breathtaking forest of conifers. This kind of research you really don’t mind – like that little babbling brook, the research flows easily and it grips your interest, so much so that you lose track of time while wandering around in the serene research forest. This case, however, seems to happen far less often than one desires.

I guess when 'babbling brook' research comes your way, you should try to hold onto it and when it’s research the lover scorned that emerges, you should try (like any ex-lover) to remember the good times and move on. So what are you waiting for? Get a move on! 8-)

(Cue my own master’s research here … well, maybe.) :-P