No matter what career field you’re in or how high up you are, there’s always more to learn. The same applies to your personal life. No matter how many experiences you have or how diverse your social circle, there are things you don’t know. Research unlocks the unknowns, lets you explore the world from different perspectives, and fuels a deeper understanding. In some areas, research is an essential part of success. In others, it may not be absolutely necessary, but it has many benefits. Here are ten reasons why research is important:
#1. Research expands your knowledge base
The most obvious reason to do research is that you’ll learn more. There’s always more to learn about a topic, even if you are already well-versed in it. If you aren’t, research allows you to build on any personal experience you have with the subject. The process of research opens up new opportunities for learning and growth.
#2. Research gives you the latest information
Research encourages you to find the most recent information available. In certain fields, especially scientific ones, there’s always new information and discoveries being made. Staying updated prevents you from falling behind and giving info that’s inaccurate or doesn’t paint the whole picture. With the latest info, you’ll be better equipped to talk about a subject and build on ideas.
#3. Research helps you know what you’re up against
In business, you’ll have competition. Researching your competitors and what they’re up to helps you formulate your plans and strategies. You can figure out what sets you apart. In other types of research, like medicine, your research might identify diseases, classify symptoms, and come up with ways to tackle them. Even if your “enemy” isn’t an actual person or competitor, there’s always some kind of antagonist force or problem that research can help you deal with.
#4. Research builds your credibility
People will take what you have to say more seriously when they can tell you’re informed. Doing research gives you a solid foundation on which you can build your ideas and opinions. You can speak with confidence about what you know is accurate. When you’ve done the research, it’s much harder for someone to poke holes in what you’re saying. Your research should be focused on the best sources. If your “research” consists of opinions from non-experts, you won’t be very credible. When your research is good, though, people are more likely to pay attention.
#5. Research helps you narrow your scope
When you’re circling a topic for the first time, you might not be exactly sure where to start. Most of the time, the amount of work ahead of you is overwhelming. Whether you’re writing a paper or formulating a business plan, it’s important to narrow the scope at some point. Research helps you identify the most unique and/or important themes. You can choose the themes that fit best with the project and its goals.
Take a short course on research
- Understanding Research Methods (SOAS University of London)
- How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (École Polytechnique)
- Research for Impact (Oxfam)
- Qualitative Research Methods: Conversational Interviewing (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
#6. Research teaches you better discernment
Doing a lot of research helps you sift through low-quality and high-quality information. The more research you do on a topic, the better you’ll get at discerning what’s accurate and what’s not. You’ll also get better at discerning the gray areas where information may be technically correct but used to draw questionable conclusions.
#7. Research introduces you to new ideas
You may already have opinions and ideas about a topic when you start researching. The more you research, the more viewpoints you’ll come across. This encourages you to entertain new ideas and perhaps take a closer look at yours. You might change your mind about something or, at least, figure out how to position your ideas as the best ones.
#8. Research helps with problem-solving
Whether it’s a personal or professional problem, it helps to look outside yourself for help. Depending on what the issue is, your research can focus on what others have done before. You might just need more information, so you can make an informed plan of attack and an informed decision. When you know you’ve collected good information, you’ll feel much more confident in your solution.
#9. Research helps you reach people
Research is used to help raise awareness of issues like climate change, racial discrimination, gender inequality, and more. Without hard facts, it’s very difficult to prove that climate change is getting worse or that gender inequality isn’t progressing as quickly as it should. The public needs to know what the facts are, so they have a clear idea of what “getting worse” or “not progressing” actually means. Research also entails going beyond the raw data and sharing real-life stories that have a more personal impact on people.
#10. Research encourages curiosity
Having curiosity and a love of learning take you far in life. Research opens you up to different opinions and new ideas. It also builds discerning and analytical skills. The research process rewards curiosity. When you’re committed to learning, you’re always in a place of growth. Curiosity is also good for your health. Studies show curiosity is associated with higher levels of positivity, better satisfaction with life, and lower anxiety.