Persisting: an Ode to Research

By: Jaya Nayar

Ironically, I honestly don’t think argumentation is the most important skill debate’s given me (despite the fact that argumentation is technically the purpose of the activity). Don’t immediately take to Facebook up in arms though: argumentation is obviously a tremendous benefit of debate. However, when I think about debate, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t giving practice speeches or being in round, but rather, I always think about the hours and hours of research I do every day.

Now that I’m a senior, I’ve started thinking a lot more about why I like debate and have stuck with it for so long. I asked myself at the beginning of this year, would I have done things differently if I knew how much work debate was? The answer is no. No, I wouldn’t have joined the volleyball team. And no, I wouldn’t have spent less time every day on debate. It’s only now that I’ve realized how much I enjoy the process of research, which is what I spend most of my time doing. So I decided to write this article as an ode to research: for anyone who thinks “why do I put so much effort into this activity,” and for anyone who spends as much time as I do looking up articles about Saudi Arabian arms sales, I promise it pays off in the end (and not just because it makes finding sources for history papers easier).

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know that much about the world. There’s so much interesting information out there that it can be exhausting to try to catch up with everything moving so fast around you. The bounds of the resolution allow us to do research about super important topics we probably wouldn’t otherwise know about. Prior to debate, I felt so helplessly overwhelmed by what was going on in life, politics and everything else, I didn’t know where to start. Debate is a unique forum that supports this curiosity about the world, a curiosity I think most debaters have, in a manageable way. This is what makes research so exciting: we get to make the world a little less complicated by narrowing our focus.

Related to that, *we* get to choose what we want to research. All the time, people make comments that influence how we think (intentionally or unintentionally): teachers describe events through certain lenses, parents talk about politics at home and friends relate their opinions about the world at the lunch table. This is where research comes in: no one gets to tell you what to think. Nothing feels better than thoroughly understanding a topic to the point where you can formulate your own opinions and defend your beliefs, instead of just parroting what other people say. *You* get to choose what direction to take your research in, and by the end of the topic, *you* get to decide, because you’ve done so much research, which way you lean on certain issues. 

So, as annoying and tedious as research can sometimes be (trust me, I get it), parsing through hundreds of articles on Google Scholar is something I’ve come to love and understand the importance of, and I hope you do too.

Jaya Nayar