What Is Academic Research and What Does It Look Like in Practice?
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We’ve all heard the phrase “according to a new study” or “research shows” but have you ever wondered what that actually means?
It’s obvious that research is important because we hear about it all of the time in all parts of life. What is academic research and why is it important?
Research comes in all different forms and places. And whether we know it or not, it affects most things that we deal with in our lives. From the technology that we use to the medicine we take. Research is vital to improvement.
So let’s dive into what research is, how it happens, and why it should be important to you.
What is a Research Project?
A research project is when someone conducts an experiment to find the answers to a question or to solve a problem they have observed.
When we think of an experiment, we often think about test tubes and beakers. But that is not the only kind of experiment that can be run.
The possibilities for research projects are really endless. It could be following a group of people over some time, it could be testing new technology, or it could be growing a plant with different variables.
A research project can propel the study of any field of interest.
The only requirement is that there is a problem to be solved, a theory to be verified, or a question to be answered. If one of those exists, a research project can be developed to find the resolution.
There are two main types of research projects; academic and professional.
Academic research is focused primarily on making new discoveries for the scientific community. Professional research is geared more towards solving a specific problem for an organization, often a business, or its customers.
The two are both valid and contribute to progress. But we are going to focus primarily on academic research.
What is Academic Research?
While any research is good and can, in certain cases, be helpful. There is a major difference between casual research and academic research.
As was mentioned before, academic research is usually intended for the sole purpose of creating knowledge. It is not designed to benefit a specific company or organization. Academic research is designed to be from a voice of authority and can change how people view whatever is being researched. For this reason, it is held to a high standard.
Academic research follows the scientific method as a way to ensure that objectivity is kept at all times.
The scientific method follows the same pattern from beginning to end in order to find the most logical conclusion for the question at hand. The researcher creates a hypothesis, which is the answer she believes she will find.
The hypothesis can be a little bit tricky because though it is important (the project is just trying to prove or disprove that thought), the researcher cannot let it sway the project.
Any biases or preconceived opinions can really sway the findings and conclusions if there are no safeguards put in place. When the research is not done to academic standards, it can be hard to trust.
And what is the point of doing the research if the audience cannot trust the conclusions?
The point of research is to find ways to improve our understanding of what is being studied or to verify that our understanding of the subject is correct. So if you as a researcher find a better way or discover something new but the findings cannot be trusted, then no change will be made.
What is Academic Writing?
So once the experiment has been completed and the conclusion found, what happens next? How does the researcher share what they’ve learned?
Most often, the researcher will publish their study and findings as an academic paper in a journal. These are established publications with a reputation for bringing valuable, valid information to the public.
When a researcher writes up the findings from their experiment, they have to use an academic writing style in order to be published.
This style of writing is generally more formal with a rigid tone. There is no common narrative, instead just the methods, facts or data and conclusions are presented. The technical jargon of that discipline, such as chemistry, or their industry is used as well.
The whole goal of the academic writing style is to articulate exactly what was done and exactly what was found. These articles are very straight-forward to read, especially if you understand that area of expertise and its technical words.
It’s also very important to explain the findings in a clear and straight forward way with no added opinions.
The writing style is important to keep the validity of the research and the article intact. The better written the article, the more likely it is to be published which is the whole goal.
What Does Peer-Reviewed Mean?
An important aspect of a legitimate journal article from an academic research project is peer review.
When a research project or research article has been peer-reviewed it means that the procedures and findings have undergone intense scrutiny by others who are already familiar with the topic and been found to be valid.
This process can look different depending on the specific field the research is being done in and where it is being done. But the process always takes place before the research is presented in an academic journal.
The paper is submitted to various peers and experts in the same field. They review the case, research, and findings and give recommendations for edits before it is published.
When an article has been peer-reviewed, it shows the reader that the findings being presented are valid.
The peers or experts who are reviewing are looking for how valid the findings are and also whether the information can be trusted. They may suggest taking out parts that are not helpful or for changes the make the paper more insightful. And they may point out problems with the methods used and suggest ways to fix them.
A peer-reviewed academic article is typically viewed as more trustworthy than an article that was not peer-reviewed.
Who is Involved in Academic Research?
Academic research involves a few different people and groups every time. Each group is necessary to make the research effective.
The first person is the researcher. This is the person (or group) conducting the experiments and writing the articles. The next is the university or the organization sponsoring the research. And last is the publisher, which is the academic journal that will distribute the academic article.
These three groups rely on each other to be able to meet their individual needs within the research realm. The researcher needs a reputable publication to publish their academic paper to make it legitimate. Academic publications need researchers who do interesting work.
They all work together to bring innovation and increase knowledge.
Why is Academic Research and Writing Important?
Okay, so now that we understand a little bit about what research is and how it works. Now, why is it important for each of us.
Higher education institutions in America spent more than $71 billion in research in 2018. This is a very clear indicator of how important research is. If there wasn’t a need for it, there wouldn’t be so much money spent.
People conduct research experiments and studies to enhance development and growth.
Academic research and writing are the catalysts to change in many ways.
Once there is a discovery made in a field that often leads to more inquiries and deeper dives into the subject. It can become like a domino effect for new, increased knowledge.
Research studies often show experts in the field where new opportunities are. These opportunities may come in the form of another research study, a new way of looking at the subject, a new organization, or a new invention.
Another reason that research can be important, especially for major organizations or universities, is to pique interest in the field being studied. When there are new, major developments in a field, the buzz from that is exciting and often leads to others wanting to study that same topic.
When research is reported it allows for more confidence in the way that things are understood. If a theory is studied and proven correct, those in the field can be assured that they are doing things right. If it is proven incorrect, then adjustments can be made moving forward.
Research is vital to the continual evolution and improvements we all seek, without it everything would always stay the same.
How is Academic Research Used in Practice?
We’ve talked a lot about how academic research can lead to change and progress. But how is that done?
Well, that depends on the field of study. But let’s look at a few examples.
In healthcare, academic research is used to allow the provider an opportunity to use evidence-based practice techniques. This means that the way they are treating their patients comes from specific research studies and can be backed up.
In education, academic research is used to teach concepts and principles. The teacher can use the latest data collected from a research study to prove a point or emphasize the importance.
Educating on research is also done to show the continual progression of the field of interest.
In technology, research studies are done to see how the equipment or systems can be improved. There is always better technology coming out and that is due, in part, to continual research being done on how it can be improved.
When used correctly, academic research can be a vital piece in an industry. If the right question is asked and studied, the results can be life-changing for those who are involved.
Why Get Involved in Academic Research?
From the outside, the world of academic research can seem tedious and boring. But that is actually pretty far from the truth.
True, impactful research is exciting to be a part of. Those who are doing the research could potentially be changing history in their field of study.
Being involved in academic research gives you an inside look into the inner workings of the study area or industry. Often researchers will get access to equipment or experts during an experiment that they may not get otherwise.
Academic research also brings recognition and accolades that can be helpful in moving forward in your career.
When an academic research study is made known to the public, that researcher’s name is attached and then known within the community. This can bring a lot of new opportunities for the researcher.
Often these opportunities look like chances to connect and collaborate with others in the same field. For someone who is really invested in a field of study, this can be invaluable to make these connections.
If for nothing else, being involved in academic research can give you answers to questions you have about the field you are studying.
What Tools Are Available for Academic Research?
If you have looked into what is academic research and now feel inclined to get involved in this world, there are many tools available to you moving forward.
The process and procedure for conducting a research study will vary depending on the actual subject being studied, so the tools required will look different for each project.
But every researcher can benefit from using a blockchain platform to keep their peers up to date on research progress. This type of platform allows the researcher to immediately publish findings as they come in, to collaborate with other researchers, and get credit for their work quickly.
A resource like this helps researchers to keep their findings accessible from the beginning, which can be an important part of keeping it going.
Check out the platform for more ideas on how it can benefit your academic research project.