If and when to start research

Are you just starting on a research project? Perhaps you want to begin a study but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you have been asked to help out on someone else’s research?

This Friday (19.05.17) at 12pm GMT, Emma Pascale Blakey and I will be joining the #WhyWeDoResearch Tweetfest, hosting an hour-long chat about “If and when to start research”.

We wanted to talk about this issue as many people (including ourselves) are keen to get started with research and may even find themselves embarking on a project, but aren’t necessarily prepared to get going. Within health research there is often an enormous pressure to ‘do research’ and far less attention paid to thinking about why you want to do a study, whether one is needed, what kind of research you could do, and what you might do with any findings.

For some practitioners the ‘pressure to publish’ may be interpreted as meaning ‘groundbreaking or novel’ findings leading to ‘a paper in a high-ranking peer reviewed journal’. This can feel daunting or intimidating, and overshadow all other aspects of planning, piloting, critical reflection or thinking about diverse ways of sharing results. Research can also feel tokenistic, so you are doing it but not necessarily sure why. Or collecting lots of data for someone else who gets the credit. And there may be a disconnect between what you thought research might involve and the reality of doing a study.

In our chat we’d like to focus on when to do research, what research might look like, what support people need when doing research. We also want to think about the needs of people who are juggling research with a full or part-time practitioner role.

We will be talking about whether your research idea is realistic. How will it help with your own professional/career development? How will it benefit others? What happens when it feels more like an exercise in box-ticking? What gets valued as ‘research’. And how to cope if you feel exploited as a researcher (especially if you’re assisting on someone else’s project).

What are the consequences for practitioners if they begin a study they are not prepared for or supported in? We will use this chat to think about what support systems you need to put in place to ensure you can do a study effectively, ethically and safely.

It may be some of these issues are too revealing or personal to disclose in a Tweet chat, so if you have any comments, questions or observations you would like to tell us in advance we can include them without identifying you. You can also add comments to this post either talking about your experiences of getting started in research; or offering advice to others in this situation.

The aim of the chat is a gentle introduction to thinking about whether research is right for you, or how to get going if you are new to this area. We don’t expect the chat alone to answer all your questions so
following the Tweet chat we will post a copy of the entire chat here along with resources to help you get started in your research and support you if you decide to continue with a project.

Looking forward to you joining us tomorrow at midday!

Emma and Petra

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