Learning How to Research
In Topic 1, you learned about the importance of scholarship and a little about what it takes to transition from student to scholar. In this Topic, you will learn about the heart of scholarship: Research. Learning how to research is critical to your transition from student to scholar, because it is a significant component of how you master the knowledge in your field, which will in turn equip you to contribute to the improvement of practice in your field. Review the learning objectives for this Topic within the course syllabus and use the following lecture, which is about the role of research in scholarship, to accomplish them.
What Do We Mean by Research?
You may have used the term research in many different scenarios and settings. You may have had to research locations of companies offering a particular service you needed, or maybe you had to research different schools before deciding to enroll at GCU. The term research is often used loosely in informal settings to mean, as illustrated in the previous examples,the search for information−but what does research mean in an academic setting? What does research mean in graduate study? What does research mean to the aspiring scholar wishing to improve the field in which they work?
According to The Free Dictionary, researchis defined as “scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry.” A Google search defines research as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” The first definition uses the term scholarly, which, as you learned in Topic 1, refers to a “learned person” who more than likely has mastered a particular discipline. The second definition mentions “the study of materials and sources.” This could include people, theories, concepts, studies, and a variety of other sources. Both definitions mention “systematic or scientific investigation,” which means an orderly and logical process that is carried out in the act of research. Analyzing both definitions should provide you with a better understanding of what research means in an academic setting, and to your ability to advance in your field by contributing to its improvement.
What Am I Researching For, Again?
Throughout your graduate study, you will learn to distinguish between two types of published knowledge−scientific and professional−and become familiar with sources that specialize in each type of knowledge. Mastering both the scientific and professional knowledge in your field is the first step in making the transition from student to scholar.
Scientific and Professional Knowledge
Scientific knowledge is information or data that has been scientifically tested to be applicable under specified circumstances and constitutes the most reliable source for solving problems and making decisions. Professional knowledge is, typically, information or data gained by practitioners or organizations and published because the knowledge was believed to be applicable and useful to other practitioners or organizations within the same field. Ultimately, the application of both types of knowledge to your chosen field is the hallmark of scholarship.