Doing research can be one of the most lonely and overwhelming practices I have experienced in college. Sitting in front of the computer with a blank document waiting to be filled out and not knowing how to start writing something that has coherence and looks good. That’s what researching is like. Even when I started writing this blog, I didn’t know where to begin.
It can also mean reliving painful and difficult moments to remember. My thesis and lab research is contextualized in the first year of the covid-19 pandemic. In my project I seek to investigate collective health issues in community organizations in the Peruvian Amazon. Specifically, I study the case of the Comando Mático, a Shipibo-Konibo youth organization, which organized itself to care for people infected by covid-19 in Pucallpa. For several weeks I read the reports and news from 2020 and it affected me more than I expected. It was like stepping into a time machine and going back to that year. To the months I lived alone and the only being I had face-to-face contact with was Missu, my kitty.
Research can no longer be objective and cold. Our research must move and affect us because, as communicators, we work with everyday life, with life stories and subjectivities. Although we work with data, numbers and statistics, the beauty of research in communications is the prominence given to the particularities of the people we work with. Researching on health and covid-19 issues implies taking each story with respect and empathy. Not turning it into just another figure.
One more point I have learned during these months is that one nice thing about the research process is that it no longer has to be solitary. Our research will never be ours alone. They also belong to the people who participate with their time and stories, our friends who are encouraged to read what you write and give you feedback, and the professors and advisors who advise you and believe in your project. In addition, the people who will see the final product of the research will be part of those who accompany us in the process, as we enter into a feedback process.
Doing research can be lonely when writing, but there are ways to feel less lonely. This lab gave me the opportunity to talk to other people I didn’t know about my research and get their honest feedback. Having them tell me they like my project or give me advice is worth a lot to my anxious self who doesn’t believe in herself most of the time. As I said at the beginning, going into a research process can be lonely, but talking to more people who are interested in your topic and research helps a lot. Talking to people who, beyond judging your mistakes, can find the points of improvement and give you advice.