The Study

Study is the deliberate pursuit of learning. Sometimes it is so deliberate that it deserves an article; we talk about “the study” we have done or what “a study” has shown. (If you thought I meant something else by “article”, you’re also right, but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s post.) When a student “studies” something it is often simply a matter of attending a class, reading the required texts, and doing the assigned writing. A scholar studies something through a more formal process of formulating a research question framed by theory and answering it on the basis of methodically collected data. Sometimes, to be sure, students are asked to engage in scholarly work — when they write research papers, for example — but their results are often not novel enough to make a “contribution” to the discipline. To learn a method, they discover for themselves what they could have read in a book. Scholars, by contrast, are motivated to conduct studies because they have questions that are not answered in the literature. Indeed, they study the subject on behalf of their peers in the discipline and intend to share their findings with them.

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