During my first years at university I never thought of it as a space for research. Occasionally I would read or hear about conferences, lectures, congresses, and a series of events that for me were very distant and unattractive. I was going to the Communications major to do something, not to stay behind a desk reading books. I had assumed that a career in Development Communication was mainly about field trips, working with different people and organizations, and honestly those were the aspects that most caught my attention when I chose it.
That’s how I thought until one day I had to take the Academic Research course. I was not yet in the faculty, when I had to do my first serious academic work. I had previously taken other courses for essays and other types of texts, but this course was different, like a final test. The most important thing for me was clearly the topic. I knew I had to choose something I really liked so that I wouldn’t get bored and could do a good job. I chose to do research on music and social filtering processes. Although it was a topic far from communications, I liked the idea and decided to do it. It was not the best research I could have done, and if I were to read it again now I would probably change every paragraph, but during those months of work I realized something important: research was not as boring as I thought.
So when I joined the faculty, I was much more open-minded about research. It began to seem exciting and full of opportunities. I discovered that from Communication for Development I could explore different fields and topics. However, I also found that the career had a mainly practical focus, and this conflicted me. The research spaces were reduced and little by little I began to forget this motivation again. I found it curious because I had many colleagues who thought the opposite, that the career was very theoretical and that what was missing was practice. From that moment on, I began to think about how we approached communications. Is there really more emphasis on the practical? Should it take precedence over the theoretical? Could a balance be found between both?
Spaces like Comunica Investiga Lab seem valuable to me precisely for this reason, because they try to give an answer to these questions through experimentation, trial and error. Research traditionally has an academic and rigid look. Many students enter their careers with the idea that the only way to do a research paper is through a text. But research should be a tool that the author can use and adapt to his or her needs. Since I have been doing my own project, I have had to modify objectives, questions, frameworks and timelines. Virtuality has also been both a challenge and an opportunity during the data collection stage. Just as I have had my own experiences, I believe that each researcher faces his or her own working conditions. Not everyone must do the same research, nor have the same methodology. Finally, I believe that the objective is to enjoy the process, to carry it out with passion, rigor and the freedom to learn and unlearn along the way.