I had a conversation with a respected professor a couple years ago about research. I struggled with crunching numbers and writing up a paper that would wind up in a scholarly journal. Who would read it? What would they do with it? Would it collect dust in library shelves and go unread?
Being trained as a therapist and having practiced for years, I have had the privilege of seeing an immediate response to my efforts. When I did my job in therapy, I got to be witness to the impact of my work. I confess, when I get to participate in a person's healing or growth, it is exhilerating.
Comparing the immediate response of therapy to the indirect and likely never known impact of research, it was hard to see research as all that relevant. My very wise prof said that I was comparing impact. Who is being imapcted? How are they being impacted? Who does what with the information I participate in creating?
Both therapy and research can contribute to changed lives. Is there irrelevant research? Yep. Is there impotent therapy? Yep. Either can add nothing or even be detrimental. The point is that whatever I do I should do it with integrity and with all my effort.
I am a scientist-practitioner who will also write some cool non-research stuff. My goal is to have multiple impacts on this world. But I desire to have impact no matter what.