Core Competency I: Understand research design and research methods and possess the analytical, written, and oral communication skills to synthesize and disseminate research findings.
What do you understand this competency to mean?
In many academic fields, research is a necessity – the composition of a paper may rely on one’s ability to provide evidence of one’s learning through effective research. In an archive, research may be necessary for the creation of finding aids, particularly for biographical notes, which provide context for the collection. Conducting thorough research for any project requires patience, since some sources may not be as useful as anticipated; diligence, to ensure that the source is reliable; creativity, because obscure research subjects may require irregular research tactics; and the skill to quickly and efficiently evaluate a source for its value toward one’s research subject.
Thorough research is conducted by evaluating the source of the information, determining the authenticity of the information, and then using the information to support the assertions made in one’s thesis statement. Compelling research findings should not only support one’s argument – they can also provide contradictory evidence. One can use contradictory evidence for the purpose of disproving alternate theories and strengthening their own position.
Once the necessary research has been completed, the findings must be analyzed and disseminated using the highest caliber of written or oral communication possible. The information gleaned from meticulous research is useless if it is not presented in the clearest communicated form in either writing or speech. Research findings must be read thoroughly and evaluated for content; quotes from authors can be embedded in a paper to bolster one’s assertions.
Information collected from conducting academic research must be synthesized in a paper that has been carefully planned and laid out according to the APA style guidelines. Even when exhaustive research has been conducted and collected, it is useless unless arranged and included effectively in a well-written paper. The quality of the writing must be high and without grammatical, spelling, and semantic errors – these errors detract from the goal of the paper and ruin the effect, no matter how strongly an argument is supported by its accompanying research.
The same can be said of oral presentations that are poorly executed. No matter the quality of the research conducted in order to create a strongly supported presentation, if that presentation is not delivered in a cohesive and clearly worded speech then the work behind it has been wasted. In order to effectively disseminate research findings through an oral presentation, a script should be prepared before-hand to ensure that all important points have been presented. A visual presentation should accompany the spoken word in order to move the presentation at a speed at which the information can be clearly delivered and absorbed by the audience.
What course assignments or other work products are you submitting as evidence of your mastery of this competency? Which source or class is your evidence drawn from?
As evidence of my mastery of this competency I am submitting my final research proposal for MARA 285: Research Methods in Records Management and Archival Science, and the final paper for LIBR 284: Photograph Preservation. Each paper has been chosen for the level of research performed or research method exemplified, the information disseminated, and the quality of the writing used to disseminate those findings.
Why did you select these particular work products as evidence for your mastery of this competency? How do your selections show not simply learning by also application?
Each piece of evidence provided has been chosen to highlight my mastery of each element of this competency. Understanding the fundamentals of performing thorough research as well as clearly disseminating research findings has been demonstrated in the following samples of my work.
1. MARA 285: Research Methods in Records Management and Archival Science: Final Research Proposal
This research proposal details a research approach, complete with a clearly stated research question, list of operational definitions, a literature review accompanying each source, a statement of methodology and analytic technique, project schedule, and summary. This proposal acts as a template for an approach to conducting the research necessary to compose a paper of this magnitude and the research and survey efforts required in order to produce a complete final product.
Before commencing on a major research project, a specific question must be formed in order to guide the direction of the research. It is critical to the final product that sources be used that support the thesis or help the author prove or disprove a developed argument. In this research proposal my research question sought to explore the transparency versus privacy dilemma and provide a feasible compromise between the two. The basis for the research conducted to complete this research proposal used this research question to evaluate sources and choose what information was appropriate.
The next step of the proposal was the creation of a list of operational definitions. It is common practice to use vocabulary that is specific to an academic field and may alter slightly in definition based on the field and usage. Therefore, it is practical to include a list of operational definitions for the research proposal in order to make clear the vocabulary that will be used throughout the paper, and the use of words in specific forms to suit the academic field.
The literature review, however, is the most important portion of this research proposal, particularly in its function as an example of my mastery of this competency. Also known as an annotated bibliography, this literature review provides a brief summary of each provided source, accompanied by an explanation of the source’s relevance in terms of my research question. Completing an annotated bibliography or literature review allows for a detailed evaluation of each source and where it would provide evidence to support a research question argument. Sources should be sought during the conducting of research that will benefit not only the author of the paper but also the reader – the provision of substantial proof to support an argument or prove an assertion helps to sway a reader in favor of one’s claims.
2. LIBR 284: Photograph Preservation: The Preventive Conservation of Exhibited Photographs: Exposures and Solutions
Written for LIBR 284: Photograph Preservation, this final paper is the product of extensive research regarding the potential dangers and possible solutions for photographs exhibited in a museum setting. All research sources were synthesized with original ideas to provide an in depth study of photograph conservation techniques and possible risks to photographs on display.
I conducted extensive research using academic journals to ensure that the sources were reliable and fact-based in order to confirm the accuracy of information used for supporting my claims. I was also careful to maintain an original voice throughout the paper that did not solely rely on the research findings to drive the paper, but to use them merely as evidence of the strength of my arguments by professional collusion.
This paper has been arranged in compliance with APA formatting guidelines, with a separate introduction with a clearly identified thesis statement, labeled sections, and a conclusion that summarizes the research findings and proposed solutions. Through concise formatting, the paper clearly disseminates research findings as they pertain to the assertions I presented in each section. I strove to present my best caliber of writing, which aids in the presentation of the assertions.
What have you learned?
A critical element of any academic pursuit is the ability to conduct research and then disseminate those findings in a clearly written paper that has been constructed with the intent of delivering assertions bolstered by the included research findings. Conducting research should be methodical and thorough. Each source should be vetted for authenticity and reliability – sources that have no academic or professional affiliation should be used with caution to avoid presenting an opinion as fact, which can weaken any statements made in one’s paper. Research should be carried out with the clear purpose of providing evidentiary findings that will support any arguments or assertions made in the paper.
It is important that enough time is allotted for organizing the research findings and writing the actual paper. If the quality of the paper is not exemplary, then the research findings mean very little – without a clearly written vehicle to transport these ideas to readers, the effort placed in conducting such research was for naught. In order to effectively communicate research findings to an audience, papers must be free of errors and writing must be clear and concise. Research findings should be disseminated orally in this manner as well – presentations should be organized so that ideas are expressed clearly with easy-to-follow speech.
It is not enough to simply be adept at conducting thorough and efficient research. That research must then be evaluated for relevancy and then used throughout the paper in order to support one’s arguments or assertions. Research findings must clearly aid in the creation of the paper but not overpower the author’s original ideas. The voice of the author must be heard clearly throughout the paper, and the research findings must be used for evidentiary support – an accompaniment to the main attraction, if you will. A well-written paper maintains original ideas without completely relying on someone else’s theories – research findings should provide support to the original ideas and theories presented.