What Research does for you
As I reflect on my journey, it dawned on me that it was my little daughter that was the first to preach about “research” in my house over six years ago. The little girl who attended CITA international nursery school (best school in Port Harcourt if you ask me) will come back from school and tell everyone that cared to listen about how her teacher would say to them “use your imagination”. This was in reference to solution for whatever assignment was given to them. With time it became a popular saying in the house as I adopted it as an appropriate answer to any house tasks too. It seems like the research bug has also caught up with my last kid as she will always question where one is going and that is if she is not fast enough to wear her own shoes. Her “where are you going” will always be followed by the next question “can I follow you” and if she cannot then comes the request for you to buy her Paprika (a flavour of Pringles) or her latest fancy “mentos”. For some time when Paprika reigned for her, I almost started avoiding supermarket shelves that stocked it since she would simply rush and grab one as we pass through such shelves without confirming whether daddy has money to pay.
With the research bug in my house, I enrolled into a part time one last year at the University of Port Harcourt and ever since, I have come to enjoy every bit of the journey,questioning everything that comes my way including the ingredients that made it to any Jollof rice that comes my way. I have always fancied higher education with all the networking that comes with it, but nothing is more fulfilling than research. I was lucky to have a soft landing with some lectured modules like; research methodology and critical thinking skills unlike the normal Nigerian University where you will be thrown to the deep end and research can be done till “ebighiebi” (eternity) which is what discourages a lot of people when it comes to higher education in Nigeria. Thanks to the World bank, this program (part of a $150 million program across Africa) is different and do not have any of those issues. You can ask Mr. Google about the World Bank Africa Centre of Excellence Program if you want to know more.
I enjoy the critical review of literature where all you are doing is reading past work in a particular discipline in a bid to identify gaps. And I can tell you there is that sense of fulfilment that comes with identifying some gaps! The critical review means reading in between the lines with focused attention. It can be interesting to read the criticism of other people’s work by researchers in a particular area when you go through past literature. It is even more interesting to criticise other people’s work as part of your own work which eventually will also be criticized by others following you. It is from the gaps or problems identified that you can contribute to provide solutions to such problems as part of your research. The contribution to the body of knowledge in the subject area is what gives the researcher that joy. Mind you, no one is asking you to go to the moon as part of that contribution but to simply add that little you can as those coming after you will add their bit and the bits in turn change the course of humanity as discoveries make their way into the industry, making life easier for all of mankind.
A major thing research does for you is to humble you. As I discussed with a friend, we could not but marvel at the amount of knowledge out there and the fact that we as individuals know only but so little about specific areas of this life or world. Think of the internet as a subject, think about automotive industry, think about economics, think about theatre arts, think about “politriks”, think about theology, gosh! it’s just too much to handle and you just have to be contented in your our own small area.
Research is a vital tool for national development and has increased benefit when done in-country where products can be developed to adapt to the local environment. With the clamour for increased funding for education, even more money needs to be devoted to research because that is what eventually supports the development of new products and services that enhance the living condition of the society. Similar to government campaigns, encouraging more enrolment into primary and secondary schools for educationally disadvantage states, they should also mount similar campaigns to encourage fresh graduates to take up research if we must free ourselves of dependence on foreign goods and services in future. And even if we do, it will not be on their terms alone as we will bring something to the table.
Friday 7th September 2018