Research as thinking


Thinking by Wade M, Attribution-ShareAlike Licence

In his book on Small Scale Research, Peter Knight discusses the idea that research is more about thinking than doing.

He talks of moving beyond description and ensuring that your writing explains the meaning of what you have found out and why it is important. This, he argues, is the essence of research. It is creating knowledge, both for yourself and for your reader. This knowledge is born from “the quality of thinking; from mindfulness (having a view of what you are doing and why), sensemaking (integrating the information with existing understandings) and claimsmaking (saying why your understanding is significant and should be of interest to others).” (p 20)

Your diligence in collecting and summarising data will be wasted unless you also say what it means and why it is important. But this, of course, is hard. It requires you to understand and think deeply about the data and findings. And once you do understand you need to convey this understanding and meaning to your reader. This requires a lot of thinking, and is why Knight claims that research is more about thinking than anything else. I agree. And that is what is so wonderful about it. Research is the ultimate learning experience.

Knight, P. T. (2002). Small-scale research. Sage publications ltd. London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd. Retrieved from


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