5 Reasons Why I Love Research

Research (and the papers that typically accompany it) are an integral part of most college students’ academic career. We realized that even among a community as intellectually-minded and driven as Kenyon, not everyone shares our passion for research. In the past, we have excitedly ordered double digit numbers of books via Consort and Ohiolink for simultaneous research papers. When we talk about this with our friends, though, the expressions of concerns we received astound us.

 

“Oh my god, why are you doing that to yourself?” Because I want to learn. What are you doing?

“What could you possibly need all of those books for?” Research!

“Have you lost your mind?” Maybe.

 

Research may seem like a pain, but often, research papers are built in such an open manner not to torture you, but to ensure you can choose and/or find a topic about which you can get excited and with which you want to engage. Personally, we enjoy doing the research. Here are some of our reasons why:

1. It’s a Chance to Discover Something New

Maybe it’s in a class for your major, or maybe it’s for a class that fulfills your distribution requirements. Either way, you pick classes for a reason, and you’re not only broadening your knowledge by taking classes outside your major but also by digging deep into the subjects. That’s what research papers are for. It’s an opportunity to focus on something you are passionate about (especially if your class does not go over it in much depth). You might even stumble upon an entirely new passion.

2. It Puts you in Control of Your Learning

While it’s true that we as college students decide which classes we take, our professors make the syllabus for the class. Their choices affect what we learn. However, we make decisions over our curriculum with open assignments such as papers, especially extensive research papers. It gives us agency over what we learn and on what we care to focus, such as which area of Europe to write about during the Renaissance or choosing a poem to analyze in more depth. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is such an irreplaceable opportunity to investigate a topic you want to understand better. We highly recommend taking advantage these moments and enjoying them rather than dreading the work it will take.

3. You’ll Potentially Impress Your Professors

This is also a way to show your professors that you care and you are engaged in the subject outside of class hours. This is especially true if you’re not one to speak up as much in class discussions. They want to see you putting in time at this. They want to hear from you, both the good and the bad, as you journey through this topic you may or may not know particularly well. You are not expected to be an expert on the subject before you research. The paper, as a final product of your research, is a chance to prove that you’ve tried to master the material. It’s also fun when your professor doesn’t have extensive knowledge on the topic, so you will be learning more alongside them!

4. It Challenges You to Move Outside Your Comfort Zone

By moving outside your academic comfort zone (things you’ve already learned and simply copying down notes from your professor’s lecture), you’ll learn just how resourceful and intelligent you really are. Research can take you down avenues of thoughts you never even knew existed or interested you. This can be exciting, but also distracting. Coherently synthesizing your research is difficult work, but it ultimately makes you a stronger, more concise writer. You’re growing as an academic because you’re deepening your knowledge while also experiencing a new, independent way of learning.  

5. Research Can Be Fun!

Hard to believe, I know, but it’s possible! Once you get really into a topic, it’s exciting to see what new facts and tidbits you can uncover as you find and explore new sources. It’s hard to approach a big stack of books not knowing if what you’re looking for will be inside, but when you do find something, it’s all the more rewarding because you’ve learned something all on your own.

Research can be hard and time-consuming, but it can also be a lot of fun! As you read more, you will find yourself picking up a wide variety of facts that enhance your knowledge and broaden the way you approach a topic. This semester we are preparing for multiple papers, many of which require books Kenyon does not have immediately available. We both want to do a good job and for our papers to be successful, but also to learn as much as possible. If that means a little extra work (and likely some extra stress), so be it. Go for it, and see what you can discover along the way!

 
 
Image Credit: Jenna Wendler, Common Wealth, Kenyon College