I had an interesting chat with an eager, passionate, enthusiastic and smart student. She wanted to write about entrepreneurship. We spoke about how she could approach learning the subject and eventually contributing to it. During the conversation I found that we kept coming back to this rather important point – reporting versus research.
Reporting is what reporters must do. They are to observe and report (state facts) without interpretation. They normally do not involve trying to identify ‘causality’. On the other hand research is what researchers do. They use the facts and attempt to draw causality. They try to answer questions about why, how, and what behind phenomena.
Reporting must record phenomena, Research must attempt to decipher the meaning and causality behind it.
It is important to know that both roles are important. It is because we do not have high quality reporting that we do not have high quality datasets to work with. Hence both roles are critical. So why is this important?
As a student of any subject it is important to locate oneself in a role that is most suitable to one’s interests as well as one’s capabilities. It is only by situating oneself in the cusp of interest and capability that one can contribute to the most. One can straddle between the two, but moving too often makes one less focussed on either. Hence it makes sense to stay rooted in one and occasionally spend time in the other.
I am a researcher. I have decided to be one. I try to help practitioners make sense of phenomena and thereby make better decisions. What do you want to do? Think and make a wise decision!
I told this budding writer the same thing. The beauty is – she said she would take the inputs, think on it and come back with her decision. This makes the life of a teacher worthwhile.