Decoding the Language of Research

Research is one of the most efficient ways to answer a question.  All research is either formal or informal, but either way a curiosity is always satisfied even if it is of little importance. I find myself conducting informal research on a day to day basis, but I have also conducted formal research as assignments for classes at school which introduced me to different types of texts.

Although informal research is quick and easy, formal research is important too.  I, personally, have only conducted formal research a few times, and more recent than not.  Two of the times have been for a research paper in my freshman and sophomore year English classes, but I have also conducted research and papers for college classes like Psychology and American Government.  For me, research is an organized yet chaotic process. I remember sitting at my table in my second block English class of sophomore year and scrolling through my slideshow of notes on my chromebook that had thirty-six slides of notes, eleven different sources, and twelve different color-coded topics all on one PowerPoint.  Organized but chaotic and overwhelming. My topic was consumerism and materialism and how it affects the world today. I remember looking through dozens of scholarly articles and pulling out quotes and statistics and compiling it into one fat paper. Fourteen pages. That one paper ended up being fourteen pages filled with hours of research.  It doesn’t seem like a lot to some people, but then, that was the largest paper I’ve ever written.  

The hardest thing about research is the articles and documents you read.  One time I had to write a research paper on Shakespeare plays and another time about topics within Psychology.  There’s a massive difference in reading a play from the sixteenth century and a psychological case study from 2011.  The vocabulary is completely different. The only similarity is that I struggle to comprehend what either text is saying.  I remember when I had to write that first research paper, I sat there with a dictionary trying to find the definition and a thesaurus trying to find a synonym in terms I could understand.  One thing I have learned when researching is “pay attention to vocabulary” because most “scholars typically write for other scholars” (Bullock et al. 295-296). Additionally, different disciplines have words rooted in different languages.  For example, in scientific fields, the vocabulary is “technical” and is “based on Greek and Latin roots” (Bullock et al. 296). Sometimes I have to look up every other word to understand what I’m reading. The difficulty of reading depends on what I’m reading, when it’s from, who wrote it, why they wrote it, and who they wrote it to.  

In conclusion, research is a chaotic but organized, tedious but simple, and a stressful but informative process.  As I first began writing research papers, I was still learning how to organize and structure a paper. Now, I am continuously learning the wide range of vocabulary in scholarly articles and how to decode it.

Works Cited

Bullock, Richard, et al.  Chapter 25: “Reading Across Fields of Study of Study.”  The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook.  5th ed. Norton, 2019.  pp. 294-304.  PDF.

One comment

  1. Emma, “Decoding the Language of Research” offers an insightful and engaging look at what your own experiences as a student researcher and your recent reading in The Norton Field Guide have taught you about the vital role of discipline-specific vocabulary in fields of study. Minor editing would make this strong paper even stronger.


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