How Good Communication Skills Are an Essential Part of Conducting Research | Beaufort County Now | The pillars of good research include accuracy, good data, good methodologies, and great communication skills. That last part is often overlooked.

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Jessica Fender

    The pillars of good research include accuracy, good data, good methodologies, and great communication skills. That last part is often overlooked. The idea that research speaks for itself is a myth. If that was true, only scientifically valid information would gain traction. 

    We all know that isn’t always true, however. In fact, have you ever witnessed poor medical advice being accepted as truth on social media? This often happens because erroneous, even dangerous information presented in a convincing way can still be quite influential. At the same time, information that is factually accurate will be ignored if it is not presented in a way that people understand it. This illustrates the importance of good communication. 

    As a researcher, it is your job to communicate the results of your research to your audience. To do this, you need to deploy good communication skills every step of the way.

The Impact of Communication Skills on Research

    As you begin researching any academic topic, consider the following questions:

  • What are you trying to figure out?
  • What questions are you trying to answer?
  • What information do you need?

    To get the answers that you want, you have to ask the right questions in the right way.

    How do you accomplish this? You have to write carefully tailored research questions. This way, when you pose these questions to other researchers, academic peers, even research librarians, will know how to assist you. In fact, you also have to be careful to pose your research questions appropriately to academic search engines. By learning how to frame your questions clearly, you become a better researcher and a better participant in group research projects.

The Role of Communication Skills in Research Writing

    The role of great communication skills continues as you write your research paper. That’s because the impact of your research papers is limited to your ability to communicate your research clearly.

Jeff Myers, an education blogger at GetGoodGrade knows the importance of writing to your audience. According to him, “The first thing you will need to do is understand your audience. Are you presenting your research to other academics, to a committee to gain funding for further research, or to members of the community in order to educate them about a specific topic? Whatever the case may be, you have to prevent your information in a way that engages your audience, and in a way that they understand. Write at the level of your audience.”

    Next, it is important to understand the difference between writing about complex topics, and writing in a complex manner. The first is a part of academic writing. The latter is rarely necessary. In fact, when you write using needlessly stilted academic jargon, your audience finds that off-putting. Even readers who have the academic background to understand what you have written will likely write your work off as being pompous. Use language that is as clear, simple, and straightforward as possible.

    If you are able to take part in peer review sessions, you should absolutely do so. These are your opportunities to get feedback from your peers on your research writing. Use these to ensure that you are communicating your ideas as clearly as you think you are.

    Finally, the issue of brevity is very important. Good research writing is concise. It takes the audience’s time into consideration and gets to the point. A good research writer understands how long a paper should be, and makes every effort not to exceed that.

Communication Skills and Defending Your Research

    Whether you are doing it formally in a thesis or dissertation defense, or informally in a classroom discussion, all researchers should be able to defend their research writing and the conclusions that they reach. This is where you move from written communication skills to verbal communication skills.

    One of the most important things you should be able to do in a discussion of any research you have done is to remain calm, polite, and open. A good researcher is interested in arriving at the truth, or as close to it as they can get. That’s why they learn to handle contradictory ideas and opinions without becoming defensive. They see the addition of this information as helpful. This is true even if they disagree with someone else’s conclusions. 

    Ideally, your research will always be read and understood as you intended. Obviously, this won’t always be the case. You will often be expected to drill down into further detail on certain points, and to provide clarification on others. You may encounter circumstances where members of your audience have fully misunderstood your points. A good communicator is able to handle these situations gracefully. They see them as an opportunity to inform and educate, and to engage in important dialogue. Later, they make the necessary modifications to ensure that their writing is clearer in the future. 

    However, you can minimize the risk of being misunderstood by letting a professional from sites for essay writing or your colleague read your research before presenting it to a broad audience. This way, you can be notified about the complications they’ve encountered. Therefore, you'd be able to make the necessary edits beforehand. 

    One of the most important things that you will gain as you discuss and defend your work is new knowledge and new perspectives. That’s why it is important that you show a willingness to take on new evidence and information, and incorporate that into your research writing. When you do this, you prove yourself to your peers to be an academically open and honest researcher. This will earn you more respect in academic circles than being correct all of the time.

Final Thoughts

    Academic researchers are sometimes guilty of tunnel vision. They tend to hyper-focus on factual accuracy while missing opportunities to accurately communicate critical information to their audience. In other cases, they may limit their ability to obtain the information they need by failing to properly communicate their research questions. In order to overcome this, researchers must incorporate good communication into every aspect of the research process. This includes researching the topic, writing the research paper and notes, and when presenting that research to peers and instructors. By working hard to hone your communication skills, you will become a much better researcher and academic peer.

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