Shedding the negative connotations of “research”

As a journalism student at Rutgers, I cut corners.

Interview someone in person? Email them! Need to find someone to grill about a topic affecting the university? Ask a roommate who is 20 feet away! Yeah, it was pretty bad.

But no more. I’m no longer a kid who does the bare minimum and hopes for the best grade. I’m an aspiring writer, and if I want any chance at landing a career as a writer/editor, I need to develop a passion for uncovering the truth in the world around me.

After reading Philip Gerard’s “The Art of Creative Research”, I find myself inspired to explore the possibilities of writing topics for my research paper in Core II. The extent of any research I’ve ever done is search terms in Google Scholar or Ebscohost. I interviewed a few food science professors at RU for an assignment on trans fats once, but I feel that doesn’t count because they were resources available to me within 15 minute’s walking distance. I’m going to use this opportunity to push myself to dig deep into my work and learn, rather than expecting to be instilled with all the knowledge I need upon receiving my degree (Pro tip: it doesn’t work that way). After all, it sounds exciting to become “the main character in a drama of discovery, epiphany, and creation,” as Gerard puts it.

At this point in my life, I’m ready to experience new things and broaden my horizons. I’m prepared to learn lessons and allow my work to change, as Gerard says. As one of my classmates put it, research is inherently a reaction to piqued curiosity. I’d like to amend that statement with,”True, but make sure you don’t half-ass it.” It leads to dull writing (and I may be the worst offender).

It gives me hope to know that research doesn’t have to be such a drag. I always sighed and rolled my eyes whenever a professor uttered the word “research,” but I’m relieved to know it’s not such a grim process. If I could uncover a mystery from an inscription on a tombstone like the one mentioned in Gerard’s piece, I’m sure I would find the research invigorating. My goal is to know the sense of accomplishment I’m sure his student felt when she penned that story after months of research.

Now, what would I ever devote nearly four months of my life to research?


One response to “Shedding the negative connotations of “research”

  1. Hi Wayne,
    I know exactly what you mean when you describe cutting corners. As an editor, my constant struggle was with the writers who would interview their roommates, their buddies, email people instead of walk to the next building, etc. It would take too much effort for what it was worth to pull that awesome story you knew they could write with just a hint more dedication.

    The question we need to ask ourselves is how to make the research worthwhile not only in the final product, but as we go along in the process itself. Maybe if we found more interesting interview subjects, we’ll be excited just to interview them. Maybe we need to plan actual trips to the interesting place our research is about. I’m not suggesting we need instant gratification; rather, I’m suggesting we need to make the whole process gratifying.

    Trans fatty foods for thought. 🙂
    See you Tuesday!

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