When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am employed as a Researcher in an academic institution. The typical responses I receive were, so you work for the Library? You mean you are a librarian? What do you research? And for those who are totally clueless, so what do you particularly do? At this point, I can sense that some of you are likewise not familiar with what I do.
I don’t feel insulted when faced in such situations. My job is after all not common with that of architects and accountants. The feeling is nearer to getting exhausted from receiving those puzzled faces. It’s as if I am doing something out of this world. I am an Academic Researcher and obviously my job is to produce researches. But I don’t just google, copy, paste and compile information. Please, that’s not research!
In a nutshell, this is what I do.
I conduct studies for the school. Some of the studies I made evolved on determining the labor market condition, employability of our graduates, assessment of the ICT skills and needs of the employees, examining the Organizational Climate of the institution (depicts the overall environment of an organization as evidenced by the management style, working environment and attitude of the employees), and examining the feasibility of offering new courses or programs.
What happens to my researches? The management (hopefully) uses my hard worked output as reference to planning and decision making. My job as a Researcher is unfortunately limited in producing the research. Once my study is done, my boss already takes over. Though before, I had a boss who challenged me to present my research findings to the community of employees and the members of the management committee. I will forever be thankful to her for that opportunity. Her challenge made me realize that I can speak. I am not just a rank and file employee who is belittled by some conceited and intelligent creatures. How I wish all bosses would follow her on that practice. Challenge your staff and be there to support them. Don’t overprotect or underestimate your staff’s capability. In my own biased opinion, I believe that there are no stupid and dumb employees. There are just superiors who don’t know how to unleash the potentials of their people. Better yet, there are superiors who refuse to train their staff because they feel threatened of their capabilities. Rank and file employees, do we all agree? 😉
Though my job title doesn’t sound so flattering, I love the challenge and the silent prestige it brings. Modesty aside, not everyone can produce a comprehensive and fact based research. As a researcher, I don’t just write and analyze figures. I have to excavate facts and unearth findings which are not seen by a typical observer. I have to see things and situations beyond the usual way.
However, life as a Researcher is not always uplifting. I have my own low moments in this profession. I have researches that became worthless document decaying in shelves, buried with dust and serves as a nest for rodents. There are days when no matter how hard I push myself, my system doesn’t cooperate to get things done.
There are also times when people are not convinced with my research findings. A better way to explain this is when people don’t see their expected findings in my research. When this happens, I received my own share of harsh feedbacks. You call this research? This is a waste of time. Are you really a researcher? Heck, you should have told me to produce two versions of this research in the first place; the real one and the dressed up edition. You see not all people are open minded enough to accept the not-so-pleasing realities generated by researches.
Aside from uninspiring comments, some people have accused us for doing noting in the institution. Yes I spent most of my days in front of my computer. But I don’t just bum and check my Facebook account. I crack my brains and exhaust all means to source all those relevant and accurate information. I produce a comprehensive research that dissected all those pieces of information. In cases of quantitative researches, I dig hidden patterns and stories on every numerical figure with the help of the appropriate statistical tests. Once I established trending or captured an interesting behavior among figures, the task does not end. I have to write my findings in such a way that everyone could understand things the way I see them. I have to write technical and extraordinary findings in such a way that non-researchers can understand it. If I can’t properly communicate my findings or if the management can’t comprehend the technicalities of my paper, I end up to be the most incompetent employee of the day. What kind of paper is this? It doesn’t ring a bell? How did you arrive at this? If I may suggest, you might as well consider enrolling yourself to a refresher course in Research and Statistics. After that, we might be able to speak the same language.
As of now, I am no longer employed as a Researcher. I was transferred to its supposedly allied office, the Planning Department. My job title was changed to Planning Assistant but my mind, heart and body still works like a Researcher. I will never exchange the silence and inconspicuous prestige of this profession.