In higher education, "research" is different. It actually involves finding the answers that are not available yet. To illustrate this, I have picked one specific example. The question is: "Does abstinence-only sex education work?". It is a timely question. Can we search the internet for the answer? Of course, we can, but answering this question in this manner is not genuine research. What constitutes original research is formulating the question, designing an experiment that will help address the formulated question, and analyzing the results at the end. And this is exactly what John B. Jemmott, III, PhD; Loretta S. Jemmott, PhD, RN; Geoffrey T. Fong, PhD have done in a published work:
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The above is presented here to illustrate what research really is, how it is designed, and how the results are disseminated. The abstract (which serves as a summary of a research article) is as follows:
The article is "free", which means it does not require a subscription to access the full version. So anyone could click on the link provided as a caption (http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=382798) and read the entire article. The design of the experiment is described in great detail, demonstrating the need to control carefully factors that may affect results. This is quite different from simple statistics. Variables are identified and a thoughtful consideration is made such that the results will indeed answer the question that was raised. Another feature of research is its unbiased nature. The bias can easily come from the funding source behind the research. The research cited here was funded by the National Institutes of Health. At the end of this publication, one would see the following:
Last but not the least, research work before it could be published needs to be peer-reviewed. This article went through such process. An article submitted for publication is first sent to the editor or one of the associate editors of the journal for consideration. If the article seems fit to be considered, the editor then sends the manuscript to two or three experts in the field who can then evaluate competently the merits of the paper under consideration. These are the peer-reviewers. Only with a recommendation from these peer-reviewers would a manuscript be published. The paper could be rejected and this does not happen only rarely. Oftentimes, a paper could be accepted after being modified. The peer reviewers can recommend changes to correct errors in the original manuscript. The journal is overseen by a board of editors, who are likewise recognized experts in the field in which materials in the journal are being published. In this particular journal, members of its editorial board are found in this link.
It takes a lot to do research. It is expensive. It is time-consuming. However, if one is asking the same question, "Does abstinence-only sex education work?", the above paper is very useful. And this hopefully illustrates why original research is so important. It is reliable. One is not just quoting a blogger. This is an example of a true primary source.