“To be engaged, today’s citizen needs to be able to tease out fact from fiction. Notably, it is not just about obtaining information and being able to cite the sources of one’s ideas but being able to digest information, think critically, and participate in dialogue among others with different perspectives.”
The Merriam Webster on-line dictionary defines “research” as a studious inquiry or examination; especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. Given the solemnity of that definition, we rarely recognize that we engage in “important” research daily, whether we are buying shoes, planning a trip, or considering food choices. In the end, we are what we research.
Is research for everyone? Or just academics? For answers, CFAME Connection reached out to Dr. Joyline Makani, the Management Librarian (Dalhousie Libraries) and Adjunct professor (Faculty of Graduate Studies) at Dalhousie University. Dr. Makani shares insight into why research is essential in a world that revolves around complexity and change. Join us as we begin a theme dialogue on the importance of research.
Dr. Joyline Makani:
Research is for everyone and is very necessary in the world today. Thanks to advances in information technology, we are witnessing an increasingly complex online information landscape with blurred lines between information consumers and information creators or producers.
Simply stated, anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can put anything they want onto the Internet. To heighten the complexity, there is no one, in most cases, evaluating or approving Internet content before it is made public. Thus, this type of landscape presents everyone with the challenge to develop and harness basic research skills in-order to successfully maneuver, gather and understand information and not just wait for academics to verify the truth.
In other words, analyzing information, and not just collecting it, is paramount in today’s world dominated by “fake news and alternative facts”. Each one of us engages in research daily, whether we are buying shoes, planning a trip, or considering food choices. In the end, we are what we research. As academics have long argued, research helps to shape our society.
More important, building a solid research skill set is increasingly becoming necessary for civic life, i.e., the ability to gather data and information, examine multiple perspectives and re-evaluate prior beliefs is the foundation for responsible and community-minded citizens. To be engaged, today’s citizen needs to be able to tease out fact from fiction. Notably, it is not just about obtaining information and being able to cite the sources of one’s ideas but being able to digest information, think critically, and participate in dialogue among others with different perspectives.
Research takes courage because we challenge ourselves to look beyond the obvious. It is human nature to feel comfortable with what we know or what we believe in. It takes courage to question our beliefs/biases and pay more attention rather than ignore information that does not confirm our beliefs – this is what research entails – requires checking your biases, following and interrogating the evidence where ever it leads you.
Next post: Dr. Martine Durier-Copp on Research is Ongoing