Understand research design and research methods and possess the analytical, written, and oral communication skills to synthesize and disseminate research findings.
Research has a place in nearly all, if not all, professional fields and archives and RIM is no exception. Understanding research design and methods not only affords you the skills to conduct your own, it provides you with a deeper level of comprehension when reviewing journal articles, statistics, and peer research. A leader in the archives and RIM field must be able to comprehend, communicate and disseminate findings of their own or others in an orally proficient and literate manner. Additionally, the ability to work in a group or team setting, whether it be as a team member or team leader, is expected, as a role in RIM or as an archivist will require you to collaborate extensively with department heads, stakeholders, team leaders, and other organizational members. The MARA program is designed to prepare students to work in a management position in their field; therefore, team skills and communication are essential to perform at our greatest potential.
There are two types of research—qualitative and quantitative—and it is important to know the difference as each is ideal for specific situations and the information you wish to acquire. A qualitative study is better suited for descriptive information. For example, if a museum would like to know which exhibits receive the most traffic, a survey could be compiled and delivered to the employees, docents, or volunteers and questions could be asked that would extract this information. From the responses, a general assumption could be made about a certain exhibit’s popularity. On the contrary, a quantitative study is much more controlled and in the same scenario would require a random sampling of the museum patron population with closed ended questions. Additionally, an employee could be posted at each exhibit and track the number of visitors and the duration of time they lingered at the site. The bottom line is a qualitative study is used to often gather loose, descriptive data, while a qualitative study would gather controlled, numerical data.
Once the type of study to conduct has been decided based on the information that is needed to be obtained, the design of the study must be framed and a proposal presented. This will include a statement of the problem or the question(s) that need to be answered, the method of acquiring the answer, i.e. survey, case study, the hypothesis, a literature review of similar studies or theories, statement of the populations affected by the researcher and any ethical concerns that must be addressed. It is important that the research is meticulously documented so that it may be replicated in the future by other researchers. The successful replication of a study solidifies its validity and its significance in the field.
I believe that all research begins with the review and evaluation of previous research. It is important to understand the information that has already been collected and disseminated by fellow researchers in the field for multiple reasons: to understand what has already been accomplished, to provide an opportunity to reproduce a prior study to confirm or deny outcomes and add value to the research collective, and to further refine the hypothesis. This literature review, performed as a preliminary step in research proposal process, demonstrates my ability to evaluate research literature.
Much like a literature review, the annotated bibliography has the capacity to show the reader the value of the peer research that has been conducted by the author. This annotated bibliography shows the depth of the research that was conducted prior to the writing of the final research proposal and the quality of the articles that were used throughout.
In the field of sciences, the difference between receiving funding or not is often determined by the quality of the research proposal. The peer research, literature reviews, and hypothesis formulation must be able to show a research gap, a need for research duplication, or a necessary update in order to show value to the topic being presented. Additionally, the proposal must highlight the capacities of the researcher and their ability to accomplish the task. This final research proposal shows my ability to conduct a literature review, compile an annotated bibliography and synthesize it into a worthy research proposal. Furthermore, it demonstrates my ability to differentiate between quantitative and qualitative research, apply research in the RIM field, and emphasize the importance of research in the RIM field.
In the archival and RIM field, we find ourselves with the opportunity to pursue research. This contributes to the prestige, notoriety, and reputation of the field as well as fulfills the goals and ambitions of its members. Research is often conducted in the form of a survey which must be developed and refined. Additionally, the research is most often conducted in a group or team setting. This group questionnaire project effectively shows my collaboration in a group setting resulting in a quality finished product. It also demonstrates my understanding of research methods and effective written communication.
I believe these submitted works fully demonstrate my abilities to meet the requirements of this competency as they are of high quality, are well-informed, show real-world application, and demonstrate my abilities to work in a collaborative setting. The submitted works do not just show learning as they are not simply a regurgitation of terminology used in the course; rather, they are formulated to apply the skill gained through the course to reveal finished products that have real-world application.
The skills learned in this course through the writing of a research proposal and the creation of a survey can be immediately applied in the regular workforce and I have confidence in my abilities to do so.
This course and the actions taken throughout solidified my knowledge in the field of sciences and its association with research by taking the skills I had acquired as an undergraduate and allowed me to apply them at a graduate level. I was able to highlight current gaps in RIM research and was further inspired to complete the MARA program, so that I could contribute to the field in any manner required.