Since we’re five weeks away from the 2015 Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research Conference (SBER15) and the 2015 Advancing Ethical Research Conference (AER15), PRIM&R is taking a brief look back at some compelling moments from previous conferences. Read on to explore this week’s Time Capsule Tuesday.
Conference: Behavioral and Social Science Research and the Protection of Human Subjects, October 1979
Session: When is Research Research?
Workshop Facilitator: Kenneth J. Gergen
“ ‘Research’ is generally defined as a ‘formal investigation designed to develop generalized knowledge.’ This, of course, raises several questions: Is the investigation formal if it is not institutionally based, if it is done outside an institution? What, exactly, does the term ‘designed’ mean? Does pretesting also fall within the definition? And the term ‘generalizable knowledge?’ When? For the present applied problem? For all time? Dr. Gergen pointed out that even this discussion group’s findings could be construed as research. After all, our findings create a form of knowledge. What, actually, is knowledge? These are questions which have been the subject of philosophical debate for years. Workshop participants agreed that, in general, it is extremely difficult to know when research is taking place. The ‘research’ case could be made for activities ranging from those conducted by students to those conducted by journalists.”