What is Research?

Reaction to the following passage: 

“The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners.” 

In saying the “research enterprise”, I believe enterprise is the perfect word choice because the act of research is very difficult to upkeep and requires much effort on many levels.  Next, I agree in defining research as a complex system, because many processes connect to form the whole act of research, some of which are identified in the excerpt (i.e. the “human, physical, and digital infrastructures”).  Although I agree with the three identified categories of research, I believe that there are many more that were not mentioned such as biological and informational infrastructures to name a few.  I do not think research would progress at the pace that it does without the human, physical, and digital components working together.  Yet, I believe it is important to consider exactly how the infrastructures work together.  Could humans reach the same conclusions without the physical and digital components?  Where and how do these categories fit into the discovery phases of new knowledge?  Do they help in saving time, money, space?

Lastly, I would like to comment on the “new knowledge” aspect of this excerpt.  Can knowledge be produced through research or is it something that must be gained through experience?  I believe that knowledge embodies multiple platforms and is very complex as is the research that lies at its discovery.  Is complexity something that is created or rather is it unfolded?  Does it always speed up research or can it slow it down as well?  I think all these questions are concerns to be considered when defining research and the advancement of knowledge.

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About cbaughma

Senior at University of Michigan studying Informatics: Data Mining & Information Analysis
This entry was posted in Nature of Research, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What is Research?

  1. cyberprofgus says:

    Enterprise is a flexible term; I think equally of James T. Kirk and IBM when I think of it.

    Regarding your notion of experience and knowledge production, I think a key issue is one of intent. Knowledge, like sausage, doesn’t just fall from the sky into your lap. You need to be thoughtful and take a set of directed actions, or processes, to create something of academic or artistic value. In some traditional (factory) sense, the expression or end result of these actions is your “knowledge output”.

    Performing those actions constitutes the “research experience”, so I think you are right to consider experience as part of the overall picture.

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