Pages

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Impact

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.

3 comments:

Steve said...

In the early 90's, a close friend and collaborator got us to commit to writing a review article in the area of our expertise. I'm an R&D engineer, not an academic who is graded more for writing, and my management in my niche of the Lab encouraged but couldn't support me to do that from overhead funds. So, I worked on it little by little. It took five or six years. Ended up with about 300 references, appearing in 1997. It was the best thing that I ever did, professionally. It is still being cited and at a more rapid rate than ever. I had a trip overseas paid by a Swedish University because of it. Have established additional professional relationships. It has helped or was the basis for securing funding and starting new projects. It is still benefiting me and I certainly hope the rest of society.

So, I encourage you to do the same. And, you are a good writer. Better than me.

Lonely Dissertator said...

There are many different kinds of research, as I am beginning to realize. Different kinds of research have different levels of impact on different populations, over different durations. We need to compare like with like. Therapy vs more basic quantitative level research is not the most apt comparison. Try instead, therapy with action research.

Steve said...

In the early 90's, a close friend and collaborator got us to commit to writing a review article in the area of our expertise. I'm an R&D engineer, not an academic who is graded more for writing, and my management in my niche of the Lab encouraged but couldn't support me to do that from overhead funds. So, I worked on it little by little. It took five or six years. Ended up with about 300 references, appearing in 1997. It was the best thing that I ever did, professionally. It is still being cited and at a more rapid rate than ever. I had a trip overseas paid by a Swedish University because of it. Have established additional professional relationships. It has helped or was the basis for securing funding and starting new projects. It is still benefiting me and I certainly hope the rest of society.

So, I encourage you to do the same. And, you are a good writer. Better than me.