The high point of a research study typically, is when the scientist has obtained and disseminated her results. It becomes even more exciting if those results are considered “interesting” or remarkable. However, a seasoned researcher should savor every step of the process and find fulfilment even in the earliest stages of the research process. The publication rat race that is so typical of academic institutions (and quite understandably so), is responsible in part for the overemphasis on the final results of your research. It is also a powerful precursor for a form of bias known as publication bias but we will talk about that some other time. Suffice to say for now that, like a dance, every step of your research study has the potential to be sufficiently fulfilling by itself but this will only be so if the primary reason for your study is a desire for knowledge versus a desire to publish just for the sake of it.
Possessing the right attitude will go a long way to decrease the frustration often associated with unexpected or disappointing results, better known by their derogatory appellation – “negative results”. Now, don’t get me wrong – publishing your research findings usually means your work has been passed through a fine tooth comb by your peers and found worthy of dissemination, so ultimately, while this should not be the primary drive, the goal of every research project should be to disseminate the findings and thus impact that scientific niche. The prevailing attitude that favors only positive findings or findings that corroborate the researcher’s alternative hypothesis for publication, is what needs to be discouraged.
In subsequent posts, I will discuss the essentials of the research process and why each step should be relished. As the old saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day”. Same goes for research studies! Stay tuned!