The Craft of Research by Booth, Colomb, and Williams opened my eyes to the increasing importance of research in an information-saturated world. Remi Holden, my professor of Research in Information and Learning Technology at CU Denver, suggested the text in order to better align ourselves with what it means to be a researcher. Chapters one and two stripped away the facade I believed research to portray. I used to think that research was only for working in the academic world. The text taught me to stop narrowly defining research in my own mind and take a chance in understanding it.
The authors explain that research is currently the world’s leading industry (1995, p. 9). This fact blew my mind. I previously believed research was exclusive to academia, and never thought it mingled with government or business. The authors go on to say, “Those who cannot research well or evaluate that of others will find themselves sidelined in a world increasingly dependent on sound ideas based on good information produced by trustworthy inquiry and then presented clearly and accurately (1995, p. 9)” This statement made me realize that I did not want to be sidelined: I wanted to play ball with everyone else.
The Craft of Research continued to enlighten me on the topics of commitment, intention, and understanding. It seems to go without saying, but committing to one’s research will affect the results. The authors say, “Nothing contributes more to successful research than your commitment to it, and nothing teaches you more about how to think than a successful (or even unsuccessful) report of its product” (1995, p. 14-15). Prior to reading the text, I had one foot in the research boat and one foot on dry land. Now, I have both feet in the research boat, and am ready to make this journey.
The next important building block for successful research is intention and how it defines a researcher’s role (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 1995, p. 20). In relation to my chosen research topic, my intention is to help Minister “J” and help the congregation explore what music means to the “A” Center’s identity. I find it fascinating that music was the only common thread that kept the congregation together for a year and a half as they searched for Minister “J”. Without beginning any research at all, it appears that music is the glue and life of the community.
The final and most challenging aspect of research is imagining my reader’s role. Of course, my peers and professor will read my research paper, but my ideal reader is the “A” Center congregation. Booth, Colomb and Williams say,
In this case, the old advice to ‘consider your audience’ means that you must report your research in a way that motivates your readers to play the role you have imagined for them (1995, p. 21).
This is a group of people working to intentionally grow their community and create meaningful, life-long relationships at the “A” Center. I believe they expect me to help them understand how music defines the community and perhaps help elevate music from a pleasant experience to a sacred one. The audience will need a bit of background in “A” Center’s history and the language of sacred music will need to be explained as a new concept. I expect responses to reach the gamut of possibilities: some will resist change, some will argue the solution, and some will want to know the next steps. However, if my action research is executed thoughtfully and accurately, I imagine the majority of my audience will want to know the next steps and forego arguing the validity of the research.
The Craft of Research has completely transformed my view of research in my graduate program. This is an invaluable opportunity to test the research waters under the safety of academia in order to grow my professional skill set. In the game of research, I no longer want to sit on the sidelines; I am excited to take on the role of researcher.
Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (1995). The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.