Research is the process of asking questions about a subject or topic, using resources to find the answer, and communicating the findings of your research to others. While many consider research to be something primarily done in academic and scientific fields, the truth is that research is a valuable tool in a variety of fields, including television, economics, and medicine.
Before a television show or feature film is made, script writers conduct research to help them render the characters and world of the production in a way that will feel real and accurate to audience. They might conduct interviews with people similar to the types of characters they are writing about, research the historical context and pop culture of the movie or show’s time period, or travel to places that appear in the script. After a script is ready, industry experts conduct research to determine the production’s target audience.
Actors often use research to figure out how to play their roles well, by interviewing people with the same life experience as the character. Some actors choose to immerse themselves in the character’s life to prepare for a role, by, for example, checking themselves into a drug rehabilitation clinic or spending time working as a deep sea fisherman.
Corporations that produce consumer products or mass-market goods often rely on Research and Development departments to help them improve their products. For industries such as manufacturing, computer software, food and beverage, and aviation, R&D departments help corporations stay ahead of the competition, utilize new technology, and produce goods more efficiently.
The innovations resulting from research can ultimately improve a company’s market share and profit margins. In fact, studies have shown that investment in R&D can drive positive growth in a nation’s economy as well. This has led countries around the world, most notably China, to increase their government R&D spending in recent years.
In the medical field, research enables us to better understand how our bodies function, to identify diseases and understand how they spread, and to develop and test new treatments. Medical research in most countries is funded by both the public and private sector.
In the United States, most medical research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, and medical device companies. Recently, medical research has enabled innovations such as mobile stroke units, ultrasound therapy to treat Alzheimer’s, synthetic blood, and advancements in leukemia and lymphoma treatment methods.
Research can also help us be smarter consumers of information. Each day we are presented with hundreds of pieces of news about the world, either through online news sites, social media, radio, or television news broadcasts. It can be difficult to determine which sources and pieces of news are legitimate and verifiable, but research can help. Fact checking information you see online is important, especially in light of the recent rise of pseudo journalism, or the circulation of fake news stories. Before sharing a piece of news on a social media site or with your family and friends, be sure to check the reliability of the source that originally published the story, as well as searching for similar news stories on established news sources.