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Make A Discovery

Updated on December 7, 2013

Make A Discovery

I have been with Hubpages (HP) for almost a year ever since a few months after my Mother's death. HP has been a wonderful outlet and gave me the ability to distract myself from grief long enough to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Since I was a child, I loved discovering things that no one else knew about. Whether it was a secret trail in the forest or my own unique recipe which no one else had ever created. I have always been a discoverer. There is something so exiting about discovering something and then being able to take that knowledge and make a technology out of it.

I am a numbers person anyways. I love and live by Math. If there is not a quantitative reason to do something then I don't. I see the world in measurements. I have a passion for this type of thinking and as such I am a Scientist, I allow for Scientific doubt which is to say no matter how right I think I am about a phenomena I must concede that I have atleast 5% doubt about anything I discover. That 5% doubt keeps me up at night and gives me a fear of failure. I live by the percentage otherwise known as confidence intervals.

So in this article I will explain how to become a discoverer.

My son has always said it best, "The most important things are not written in books but must be discovered.".

Conducting a Literature Review

The Literature Review

This generation has it so much easier. They simply have to run a computer search. When I was in graduate school I was required to conduct and complete literature review by hand. That is right, no computer. On my own I ran my search parameters and found that the computer would have yield the exact same resources as I found by hand. So it is alright to do a literature review on the computer. I should warn you to complete your review using the one search engine that combines all the other search engines.

Why a literature review? So you don't accidental discover a previously discovery. You also need to know the current accepted trends in research even if you have a descending opinion. If you disagree with a trend in literature then you can challenge that hypothesis. I do this rarely as one thing I found out when doing a literature review is that those who are published on a topic are thorough. But there are always margins for error and your research can attempt to disprove something. It is a bit like beginning a salmon swimming up stream unless you are absolutely certain and then I would wRn you certainty in Science is fallacious. We only have confidence intervals and the closer we move towards 100% the greater the error for margin.

Literature reviews must be comprehensive and thorough. This is so your research design is flawless. Nothing is worse then a great research design which fails to prove anything quantitavely. In your literature review you will see research designs. My best advice would be find a research project similar to your own and use that research design. But even then it is a bit of the tail wagging the dog so you might consider taking a few courses in research methodology or statical analysis.

My research which is almost complete had a 50 year literature review which was comprehensive and complete. The subject is one which only has 14 published articles. So make certain you find your niche in research.

Setting Up Your Research Project

  • Find willing participants who wish to be the subjects of your experiment. Nothing dangerous please!! People who belong to wine tasting guildes are willIng participants in experiments. A social experiment of violating social morays is often interesting. Have your particpants wear two different shoes and see how many people percentage wise comment. I am certain this experiment has been done before but there is also plenty of room for replication of studies in Science.
  • Know your research model thoroughly. Every research model has strengths and weaknesses. Know your models strength and weakness and control for the weakness.
  • Take data, take more data and finally take even more data. You should have baseline, intervention and at minimum a return to baseline conditions in a single subject design. While in an experimental versus control the research models change. The more data you have the more acurate your research project will be.
  • I record all my data on video. I have been doing this since the 1990(s). That way if anyone questions my data I have proof.
  • Allow for error and outliers. That means try not to lose it when your research project doesn't go as expected. Some of the best discoveries have been made by accident. So if something goes wrong in your experiment you have an unidentified variable in which you may have a big discovery on your hands.

Quantitative Research

Analyze The Results and Then...

  • Evaluate your results based on your research model. In some cases, that is mean, mode, and medium and in other cases that is trend analysis and confidence intervals. But be capable of successful interpreting your results.
  • Write up your findings. I am often reluctant to try and publish and sometimes I am not capable because when working for the university your results sometimes become propriety secrets. However, my advisor once told me that every periodical is looking for quality research on innovative topics and every researcher is looking to publish so submit. If you are not accpeted by one periodical submit to another.
  • Join a professional organization which you can present your findings to. I have been presenting since i was too young and dumb to be afraid and now I am use to it. Good research, especially field research, should be shared with other academics. You don't have to give away your trade secrets to present your findings.

The Discoverer's Future...

This is a hard topic for me to write about especially in this time as I and my research partner have just made a discovery. If you have read any of my other work you probably have guessed I am from both worlds. I have family who are academics who believe I should be leading and living in the institutions of higher education. I have reaffirmed this belief with them since I have completed this project without funding and with only my research partner. Academia pays poorly but the retirement is great. There is a side of me that agrees with this thought as I believe anyone who is a discoverer should share their work with the world.

But we are living in such hard economic times I would like to set up a foundation and take my research results and develop a technology to deliver the results to enhance cognition in children with ASD and with other developmental disabilities. As previously explained, I too have a child with ASD who also has complex medical needs so academia might be the best possible environment for my son. So I am torn. I have a discovery and a technology that is already in development which can help so many children around the world. I basically want to charge a nominal fee and then subsidize the lower income children to assist them but I without my PhD. I am ABD. Not that I couldn't get it but is that in service to my fellow mankind or myself and my son?

So as one discoverer to other potential discoverer's my advice to you is know what you want to do with your discovery. Perhaps continuing to make more discoveries is your idea of fun. For me the magnitude of my latest discovery compounded with the tremendous need makes me want to stick it through and see it to full fruition.

In Summary

Within all of us is a discoverer. We simply have to tap into that part of our brains, summon the courage, work hard and know what we want to do with our discoveries. Whether you wish to pursue a PhD or simply wish to start your own business is a decision that you must make. But it is the quest and not the destination which is most illuminating and so with that "Let there be light!".


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