I often get asked what I mean by research. Finding a precise definition can be tricky, especially in education where the term inquiry is commonly used to describe a range of investigative and reflective work. In New Zealand, for example, concepts such as teaching as inquiry, spirals of inquiry, and action research, are often used interchangeably, creating confusion. It’s because of this that I think it timely to ask: ‘what counts as research?’. In this blog I share how I have negotiated this slippery question in my practice as a researcher and research mentor.
When thinking about research, I differentiate between ‘research-related activities’ and the more detailed and systematic concept of research, which for ease of understanding, I call ‘research projects’. Many people engage in research-related activities, and do these well, but not everyone carries out a formally recognised research project. So what is the difference?