Blog Post Uno – What is the meaning of research??? – Ravi Nori

“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.”

While there are many things this quote mentions that I agree with, what suddenly sticks out to me, upon a reread, is the defined function of the research enterprise – supporting the production and advancement of research practitioners…

But wait. Most of the time I see research data, I’m not a researcher. I’m a student just scrolling through my News Feed or Twitter Updates and coming across interesting data. The average salary of a University of Michigan student’s family is $102K, car accidents rise 10% during the first week of DST. All pretty random facts used to humor my more serious point: Isn’t the function of all this research to inform the public? Sure, scientists/researchers utilize, verify, and build upon each other’s data, but the data isn’t collected so that more research can be done. It is collected so that those individuals and or institutions that may not be involved in the research can make decisions to create and modify their ideas, products, or services.

At some point in the research field, someone somewhere conducted a study on the usefulness of something. Someone else then realized the potential for those findings and put it to use in creating something new. It’s what happened from entities as scientific as NASA after Russia was the first to get into space to those not so much, like facebook or twitter.

Granted, researchers often do utilize each other’s data to further “the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners”, but it is misleading and inaccurate to think the only function of research enterprises is to influence other research practitioners.

Because not everyone has the coolness level of this guy, and most of us need to rely on existing statistics to anticipate new trends…

 

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