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Research 101: What does research even mean?

So you’re interested in doing research. But what does the term "research” even mean?


At Lumiere, high school students have done research on everything from genetic engineering to art history, from theoretical mathematics to international relations. These are fields that are totally different to each other, but still all come together under the umbrella term of "research.”


That got us thinking - what draws all of these different kinds of research projects together?


What we arrived at is that research is a process. ✨ It's the process of creating a piece of new knowledge that helps us understand the world a little better.


The process has four parts:


🧠 Step 1: Identify an area of interest

Start by looking around you. What makes you go "hmm, that’s interesting”? What do you find yourself thinking about often? These can be things you see in the natural world, interesting events from the news you read, something you observe in your own body, or even objects in outer space.


📚 Step 2: Read up on the topic

Research is all about building on the work of those who've come before you. So when you have identified an area of interest, you've got to dive into what's called the "academic literature” - what have previous researchers already discovered about the topic? Wikipedia can be a good place to start for a basic introduction, and you can then use Google Scholar to explore more academic papers in the field.


🔬 Step 3: Do your own analysis!

Once you have read up about the field, you have a much better sense of what is still missing. What do we still not understand about the area? That's when you formulate your own research plan, and analyze the evidence to put forth an original argument of your own. Different fields have different ways of doing this analysis, and watch out for a future blog post that goes into more detail!


Step 4: Write and share your paper

Many people think that doing the analysis is the hard part. But in reality, that's the first step. You've then got to write out the paper in a way that makes the academic context, your methods and findings clear. And once you've done that, some people will want to try and get it out into the world - to present it at conferences, publish it in journals or popular media, talk about it with folks at your school and in your community.

So that's the process! Different people find different parts of the journey most fulfilling, but put together it can be a magical way of creating new knowledge, learning more about a topic, and having a ton of fun at the same time.

If you're interested in learning more about how Lumiere can help you do research, shoot us an email at contact@lumiere.education and we are happy to help!

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