Is communication a necessary part of research?

Solar the constructive dog

I suggest that research without communication is not research. In some disciplines, research is seen primarily as the generation of appropriate data, whereas in others communication is a core component. Whatever the emphasis, we know that others will not regard our research unless they can evaluate its worth, and this requires communication.

The facet of the Research Skill Development framework that concerns this is:

Communicate and Apply, being fully mindful of ethical, social and ethical issues (Facet F)

Communication often begins early in the research, when students talk to academics, other students, library staff and academic advisors about their research direction. They solicit feedback on question formulation, ideas, structures, processees as well as communicating preliminary findings, improvements and further enhancements. Communication will frequently occur as an end product, explaining to an audience exactly the directions taken and why as well as research outcomes and answers. However, this communication will often result in subsequent improvements, leading to a fresh cycle of (re)embarking on a refocussed inquiry.

Communication enables others to apply our research, and enbles us to apply theirs.  Moreover, if we have not considered others’ research first, that is drawing on their research communication, then we run the risk of developing known knowledge. Moreover, if we develop new knowledge but tell noone else, we do not get this attirbuted to us and others will not know about our work.

I suggest that the motivation behind communication and application, fully mindful of ethical, cultrural and social issues, is to be:


This is a drive to build, not tear down. Linked to the affect descriptor for the first facet of the RSD, the motivation of being or becoming curious, together they suggest an engagment with the world that is inquisitive, yet treads lightly as possible in the drive to find out, that is respectful and harmonious.

Author: johnwillison

Senior Leturer, Discipline of Higher Education, School of Education, University of Adelaide.

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