This week I have been attending some conferences and seminars as part of the research fest at The Australian National University where I pursue my PhD. These activities have made me reflect on what research is, the goal of research and of course the ultimate goal of my own research.
What is research? Well, we can find different definitions of research, Wikipedia defines it as “the search for knowledge or any systematic investigation to establish facts”. This definition is quite debatable in at least two ways: “the search of knowledge” the quest for new information or a new experience or the acquisition of skills? what do we mean by knowledge? Second,according to this definition, research is done to “establish facts”, is that the only purpose of research? Oh No, now I have more questions. Wikipedia’s definition of research doesn’t convince me at all. I’d better go back to my books, papers and notes on the nature of research.
As an undergraduate & graduate student I have had different courses about philosophy of science and epistemology; all of which delivered different theories on the nature of research.Popper, Lakatos, Feyerebend, Varela and Maturana? After all those lectures, tests and assignments, only now I truly wonder about the nature of research: a problem to solve? a question to answer? a social phenomena? a transformative process? a personal journey of discovery?
I don’t have a personal definite answer about the nature of my own research. I guess I’ll be able to construct one throughout the entire research process. For now, I am happy with the idea that my research is a systematic study of EFL Initial teacher education in Chile and specifically an examination on how student teachers understand their own beliefs and knowledge about language teaching and learning.
Now, what’s the goal of research? Angela Brew provoked my thoughts when she asked : how would your research contribute to solve humanity problems of the world? I thought, I won’t find the cure for cancer, nor end poverty, so what then? My contribution will be in the EFL teacher education, I intend to make a contribution to teacher education and the educational system of my country, Chile. Isn’t this worthwhile to study?