By Anna Kang
When I hear about research, I always think about the scientific method. How did the researcher ask the particular question? What methods did they use, and what are the results? To me, that was all that mattered, and I would then move on to the next question or topic to see new results and discoveries. This constant cycle of wanting to obtain new information helped to fuel my curiosity and passion for science, but something was missing within this process. What achievements were made with the results from this research? How were these results being used, and were they used effectively to help those who can be impacted by such changes? Research can not only satisfy one’s curiosity, but also be pursued for the sake of finding answers for the problems our communities are facing. Realizing how important such results can be, I wanted to find out if these discoveries were used effectively.
Just through a simple search, I found the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi, which seemed to answer all of my questions on research evaluation and application. Not knowing much about the Center and its connection to research, I scanned through the blogs and informative posts on what they do. I got excited seeing how their impactful evaluation work relates to research. I believed I understood how research should be done and the processes of it, but I realized I didn’t know much about what follows research projects or the process to evaluate the quality of research. I realized that research is a much broader network than just the simple scientific method I had learned. It requires methodology, statistical analysis, evaluation, application, and empathy. Pursuing research is one of the things I am interested in continuing but, to broaden my perspective on this field, I need to understand the application and merit of evaluation.
So far, my work at CERE has been eye-opening. In addition to learning how evaluation relates to and impacts research, I came to realize how distinct and independent evaluation is. It is a field that provides input on how effective a certain plan, system, or even an event has been for a certain purpose. While I was looking through the lens of how evaluation affects research, I came to realize it is a broader and more impactful field that prioritizes the results and how to refine those results for others to use. I haven’t had many opportunities to see what communities do with research and evaluation results and, after working under different projects, it has made me realize how important it is to see how people respond and adapt to these different findings. If the community doesn’t respond well to the initial release of information and how it can be applied, then the research almost becomes unusable. I have gotten to take part in analyzing what people think about the projects they are involved in, developing surveys that take quantitative measurements and utilizing many analysis tools that I may find useful in my school years.
Even though it has been only a couple of months that I have been here at CERE, I have learned so much about being on the other side of research, and I know how useful this information will be for me as I pursue research in the future.