Isn’t research amazing? As I walked through Memorial Coliseum at the University of Kentucky and listened to a variety of presentations this weekend at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, I was overwhelmed by the amount of research students are doing. I listened to talks on everything from women’s philanthropy to a musical analysis of Coldplay’s album Viva La Vida. Research never stops. My own project about the Centennial Exhibition looks at an event that happened over 100 years ago, yet many people have never heard about it. Researchers are constantly finding new insights on everything from literature to science. The vast amount of information that remains untouched is mind boggling.
The quantity isn’t what I find most intriguing, however. What I love most about research is the collaboration. During my presentation at NCUR, I was asked a myriad of questions. I was able to offer answers to some, but others left me thinking. Those questions are what lead to new research topics. One woman asked me what part of Leslie and McCabe’s backgrounds make their publications show certain biases. I was able to immediately give my thoughts regarding each author’s portrayal of African Americans (Leslie was a Northerner, and McCabe was a Confederate soldier), but I couldn’t jump to a conclusion as quickly about their views of women. I simply don’t have the answer. However, this doesn’t make me fret or feel like I’m not qualified to continue my research project. Rather, it adds another idea to the list of possibilities for this project! Without this collaboration, my research projects will become my pet with possibly no application to the real world. I have to remember to collaborate and consider the questions other people will be asking about my projects. This is an easy way to vamp up the quality of research I am doing. This is what makes research worth it for me.