The influential scientist and Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein once remarked, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Research leads to an expansion of our knowledge, which informs our future actions. Every aspect of our lives – social, economic, cultural and environmental – has been influenced by research.
I have first-hand experience of the importance of research: I’ve been involved in more than 20 research initiatives. I’ve participated in projects ranging from literacy and communication patterns to inclusive education, quality of life, and technology. In some research studies I’ve been able to live a secret double life under the pseudonyms Josh or Malcolm.
Over the years I’ve learned two important lessons about researchers. First, their contribution is critical, not just for the here and now but for the future. Research discoveries lead to new approaches and technologies and remind us that we don’t have to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done if we can find a better way.
The second lesson I’ve learned – and I say this with the greatest respect – is that researchers have one common flaw. While there’s no question of their brilliance, their time management skills could use some work. For example, they always tell me that my involvement in their initiative won’t take much of my time. This has never been the case. I have, however, finally figured out the formula they use: their projection of one hour of my time actually equals ten hours in “real” time. That’s okay. The critical thinking they employ in their research leads to discovery, innovation and a better world. It’s always worth my time—whether one hour or ten.