Final Week: Reflecting on Learning

When I first started the Research Methods course this term I had no idea what my research interests/area of research were. This course not only helped me identify possible research interests but it also provided me with the scaffolding necessary to develop my original research interests into a viable and fascinating research topic.

Thanks to Kristin Luker’s “Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut” and Professor Galey’s lectures it made the whole research process feel less overwhelming. Though, I must admit I still wrestle with sifting through vast amounts of information and funneling it into a nicely defined research study. I recognize that just like perfecting any “craft” or skill this requires time and dedication. Ultimately, it will get easier as you gain more experience conducting research/research studies and establishing greater familiarity with numerous research methodologies.

The greatest “aha!” moment that I will take away from this course and apply to my future research projects and academic studies is that the research process is supposed to be “messy”, and at times be unsettling because it is an “iterative process”.  Research studies are of more value when the researcher’s thinking is challenged and when new possibilities are explored – often resulting in several changes to the research design even when the research process is well underway. And that one of the greatest question(s) for researchers to keep in the back of their mind is, “how will my research add meaning or provide greater context to previous academic conversations?“ and “how will it make a difference in the lives of the identified stakeholders?” (Luker 2007; Galey 2013).

My question to you: how do you feel about the research process? Have your impressions/thoughts on the process evolved since taking this course?

– Frieda M.

REFERENCES

Galey, A. (2013). INF 1240 Research Methods. Lecture conducted from University of Toronto.

Luker, K. (2008) Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Final Week: Reflecting on Learning

  1. vangorpb

    I agree that this is something important to pick up from this course. When we read about research that has already been done, we do not see all of the compromises and changes that had to occur to make the polished 20 page article that we are given. Even ones that talk about their methods using explicit terms do not often say why they chose a specific method, or how their coding had to change because they were completely wrong about their work. (or at least this doesn’t occur often if it is a fault of the researcher).
    That being said, what method do you think you’ve settled on?

    • frieda187

      Exactly, all we see is the final product and so it is easy to assume that it was effortless because the struggle/changes aren’t openly discussed.

      I’ve settled on semi-structure face-to-face interviews. I figure it would help me to uncover the “unknowns”. After all that is the purpose of my study. To uncover the aspects of library services, programs and collections that need improvement.

  2. jbake006

    Hey Frieda!

    I have always found the beginning parts of the research process to be the most daunting. I tend to get pretty nervous when it comes to deciding on what to research and how to go about that research.

    Overall, I still find the process to be stressful but this course has helped me to work through that stress by thinking about research in a more organized way. Even though I knew that research has to grow and change over time and it is alright for some or even all ideas to change, I still had trouble being inflexible with my research before. After the course, I am much more accepting of the necessity of flexibility and change in research.

    And obviously I’ve learned more about different research methods. I had already studied many of methods we looked at in class, though there were others that I was much more unfamiliar with, especially the methods that are more closely tied to sociology.

    • frieda187

      Hey Jesse,
      I absolutely agree. It hasn’t necessarily removed that anxiety entirely but it has helped me stay a little more focused and organized throughout the process.

  3. Hi Frieda,
    After taking this course, I feel that I have a much better understanding of the research process. It was incredibly daunting at first. I’m a second year student and actually held off on taking the course last year!! In retrospect, my worries were greatly exaggerated. I owe my new found confidence to the structure of the course and the way the work was organized in steps. The blogs were a great idea because it forced us to make decisions and to work on our research throughout the entire term. I was able to take the time I needed to come up with a research focus I am actually interested in, which made the rest of the assignment go more smoothly. I found that the most difficult part of the process was finding a question that (a) was intriguing enough to spend three months on and (b) that could actually be answered. I am thankful for the suggestions made to me in the SSHRC program of work towards my final proposal. Without the feedback from the first assignment, I would certainly feel less confident about my research interest, question, and methodology.

    -Camille Johnson

  4. Hi Frieda,
    I wanted to comment that like you, this class made research seem a lot less daunting. Before this class I always just thought of research as being something reserved for the very smart and skilled… in particular because to gain access to people’s lives in research involving humans I figured you had to be some sort of super-human. I’ve been reading another research methods book for my paper, though (it belonged to my roommate as an undergrad) and I am learning more and more that anyone who is willing to learn (and hopefully has a positive disposition) can do research.
    portia.

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