Diary of an ECR #8

Research. What is it’s definition? Let me define it as “having something to show for yourself”.

Having: It must be yours. Attributable. Responsible for it. cf. “I taught those people”, but they are not mine. Their learning is theirs. I cannot sell them (well, perhaps I could…). (So, how does one come to own something? Interesting question!). Criterion: condition of most research is being an acknowledged member of a research institution.

The site of research
The site of research

Something: it must be one thing and not another. Distinctive. It doesn’t need to be new, however. It just has to be yours, attributable etc. See above. “We used XYZ’s research to do abc…”. Distinctive things will be subject to recognition by your institution, which in turn depends on recognition by other institutions.

Show: It’s gotta be public. I can do all the “research” I want, write it up for myself, and and be in general the most learned person ever – but unless I’ve got something to show to others, it ain’t research. Hence the bazillion journals in order to show.

What do you have to show?
What do you have to show?

For yourself: This is not the same as the “having” moment. This is rather the objective of research. Who, or what, is it for? Perhaps a split in the concept of research is noticeable here. While I will happily take the attribution for myself, my membership as researcher of an institution will also be snaffled up by that institution. For their purposes. Is this relationship one of mutual benefit? Maybe not always. “For yourself” means it must also be able to be taken from you by others.

This post is not research. I was not aiming to have anything to show for myself at the end of it. But perhaps it is not pointless, nevertheless.


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