The Nitty-Gritty of Research

While I have done “research” before, it always involved simply browsing Google Scholar and various journals for knowledge generated by someone else. Up until my Tanzanian project, I had never really considered the effort that goes into actually producing research. What we see published in a journal is a polished product, but we do not see the sweat and labor expended in creating it. Now that I have tried my hand at actually creating content, I have gained a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into research.

This revelation really hit me when I was presented with my first data entry task. At our land-rights workshop, we had generated hundreds of sheets filled with information about the various women who we had contacted, and who had attended. As undergraduate researchers (a.k.a lowest on the totem pole), the task of digitizing the information devolved on my lab partners and myself. We spent hour after mind-numbing hour copying information from those sheets into Microsoft Excel, and indeed, we are still not finished with the task! But mindless as the task may have been, I did gain a respect for all the professors and doctoral candidates who were supervising the research. They had already no doubt done their time in the trenches, typing in data and performing various gofer tasks. I suppose academia is built on the foundation of people like us, those who perform the nitty-gritty of research so that the whole machine runs smoothly.