Why is research important?

M Omar Iftikhar

THE educational sector of a country provides it with human resource that is capable of undertaking tasks, completing projects, building infrastructure, and uplifting the society through various acts inspired by knowledge and information sharing. It is impossible for a country to progress if it does not have learned men and women who know the importance of research, education, and a using their skills. Universities produce the brains responsible for the working of industries, corporate sector, and the country’s economy, however, research is what leverages students and professionals to higher levels of learning. It is research, which broadens the mental horizon of these men of learning, who use past researches – also called primary research – to understand the depths of information hidden in a field of study.
Researchers also conduct secondary research, which is presenting their own findings through a number of methods. Recently the team from Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves in the universe, which Albert Einstein first discovered nearly a hundred years ago. The team consists of two Pakistani scientists; which is an honor for our country. Dr. Nargiz Mavalvala PhD, is an associate head of the Physics department at MIT, while Imran Khan, a PhD scholar residing in Italy.
It was because of continuous research that scientists were able to detect the gravitational waves and this team would not have achieved this breakthrough had Einstein not studied and conducted his research on gravitational waves almost a century ago. Research is imperative for the effective working of the society because the learning achieved through research is not available elsewhere. It is because of research that scientists are able to find new medicines and cures for ailments once considered fatal. Research assists universities in producing PhDs who go on to work in the country or abroad. Research also compels the researcher to undertake the process of trial and error. It is because of research that scientists discover new data, reveal new findings, and comprehend the existing science surrounding them, no matter from which field they belong.
Ever since man became thinking on logical terms, he has been conducting research and experimenting with the resources he had at his disposal. Take for instance the Muslims scientists such as Abu Nasr Al-Farabi, Al-Battani, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, Omar Khayyam,Thabit ibn Qurra, Jabir Ibn Haiyan, Ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi, Ibn Al-Haytham, and Ibn Khaldun. They did research in numerous fields including astronomy, history, mathematics, philosophy, and medicine. Where Al-Khwarizmi is the father of algebra, Jabir Haiyan is the father of chemistry. They did not have a foundation to stand on to conduct their research except for their own understanding of the world around them and their observation.
Just imagine how Al-Biruni devised a mathematical equation to determine the radius and circumference of the Earth. This was possible because scientists of that era had the passion to know about their field and used their observation and logic to achieve the impossible. Hence, every scientist of that period helped in the development of the various fields of study we know today.
Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Henry Biggs, Albert Einstein, and others were scientists who used research and findings of their predecessors to discover answers and take the world into a new era of understanding. It is because of research that the world entered the age of industrial revolution because scientists conducted experiments understanding about chemistry and physics centuries before the beginning of the industrial revolution. Therefore, one research compliments another research from the same field and helps in the development of a sector linked to that field of study.
Where research brought the world at the verge of new findings, it also assisted in brining ease in our lives. It was because of research that machines were invented that help factory workers in factories and people at homes. The invention of the telegram, telephone, automobile, fax machine, cell phone, calculator, computers, vacuum cleaners, food processors, and other were because someone thought of a problem, decided to address it, and did his research in finding answers. It is important that this research must pass on among the masses, so the students and professionals can use them for their research.
Moreover, research and methodology is a subject taught in universities in Pakistan, teachers should add more depth into the course by explaining the methodologies used in conducting research instead of asking students to complete their course projects and reports. Universities in Pakistan do publish research journals and papers, which is a positive step; however, concerned authorities must publicize these theories and findings so the common man can take help from them. The Higher Education Commission must give special emphasis by using these research journals to bridge the gap between the academia, scientists, and the corporate sector. At the end of the day, the research will benefit the entire society and it will only take the country forward. Furthermore, it is the right of the masses to read these researches and it is the duty of the scholars to make them public, so that they can benefit mankind.
— The writer is a freelance columnist based in Rawalpindi.

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