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How does one go about making advances and making developments in their research?

I have always pondered on the thought on how someone goes about their research. I have questioned how many things like how many hours do you spend studying the material, is it mostly theoretical, is it conceptual, do you have to prove it, how many times do you have to prove it? Many questions run through my head when it comes to research because in all honesty I have a slight interest in it and I'd love to learn just more general knowledge about it, and how to get involved in it and how to go about it. Whether it be hours upon hours of studying DNA or researching electrolysis. I'd love to learn how to get involved in a research project. So I guess one of the many questions here is how do you get involved in research pertaining to different subjects? How many hours spent of this research is spent in a book or on a computer? Also, how many hours of this is a hand on experience? #science #research #chemistry

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Kathryn’s Answer

Staying current with the literature in your area of expertise and continuing to come up with new hypotheses, experiments, and analyses then writing up manuscripts of results for professional journals.

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Jeremy’s Answer

To do research and to make an advance, you need to find out something that wasn't already known.


To make a big advance is hard. Really, really hard. And the sort of research that we hear about in the news isn't representative of the way that research makes. Research is lots and lots of little tiny steps. Some go forwards, some go sideways, and some even go backwards. But before you do the research and publish it, you don't know which of those it's going to be.


There are two ways to do it. You can add a little bit to the heap of knowledge by finding out something that someone didn't know. Or you can change the shape of the heap of knowledge, by changing people's minds. Here's a piece of research I was involved in: https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&hl=en&user=QTIvSD5EvR0J&cstart=20&citation_for_view=QTIvSD5EvR0J:4JMBOYKVnBMC this tried to add to the heap. We said "Hey, these two things (PTSD and anxiety sensitivity) seem to be associated over time." That was something that wasn't necessarily known before, so we added a little bit of knowledge.


To get ideas, read research papers in an area that you are interested it. They almost always end saying "We found this out, but here are some things we don't know yet, and some questions that we didn't answer."

Here's another where we tried to change the shape of the heap: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3747837/ We said "Everyone thinks of this as A, but we think you shouldn't think of it like that, think of it like B. It looks like A sometimes, but if you look at it in a different way, you can tell that it is B." E.g. in the second paper, at the end it says "Future research that experimentally manipulates item order would help to directly address whether the observed results are best attributed to response order or to some other mechanism. " There's an idea for more research (we started to do it, but we didn't get the money.)

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Debra’s Answer

Hi Mary - good info from Jeremy and Kathryn.. wanted to add a few more pieces of info. "Research" - or the systematic process of exploring some issue, content, problem, etc. is a huge field of study. There are lots of different kinds of research - or research approaches, and research is conducted on pretty much any subject matter you can think of! Some research is what we call "basic" research... such as answering a question just because we want to know something or because we want to know the answer to something. For example, I want to conduct research to find out how galaxies form. Then there is research we refer to as "applied" research - another words, we want to apply knowledge to something. Action research is a type of applied research. In action research, you start with a problem - a problem that needs to be corrected/addressed in order to make something better. Example: The problem I want to address is that some high school teachers don't know how to manage their classrooms. So I want to study that problem and help find a solution to it. So in this example, we want to apply our knowledge that leads to a solution to our problem. Research is conducted not only in the "hard sciences" (chemistry, biology, etc.) but also in social sciences (education, history, etc.). If you want to try to get involved with a research project, a great thing to do is to visit your college's (if you're in college, or will be) ...office of undergraduate research. Most college's have that kind of office. If you're in high school, look to see if a local college has a summer internship or summer volunteer program; let them know you're interested in some kind of research internship, camp or volunteer opportunity. For example, Vanderbilt University in Tenn., has a summer Research Internship Program for rising high school Seniors. Check out the University of Alabama or other schools near you to see what they have to offer. And if they don't have something you might be interested in, ask them to refer you to another school or business that might have what you're looking for. Best of luck !

Debra recommends the following next steps:

How to get involved in research while in High School: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ishan-puri/how-to-get-involved-with-_b_11297472.html
How to get a research assistance position in High School: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-get-a-research-assistant-position-in-high-school/
K-12 Summer Programs at the University of Alabama: https://k12summer.ua.edu/
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