Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Looking For a Writing Job: Test Essay

So I want to start getting paid for writing. I met a crowdsourcer and he told me the client has a test and he would gauge my quality of writing based on how I perform on the test.
Bring it on I say. Bring the motherfocker on bro.
So whats the test?
You have 2 days to complete this assignment.
Task requirements:
    Sources: 2 (mandatory!)
    Number of Pages: 2-3
    Topic: There is no hope of doing perfect research (griffiths, 1998, p97). Do you agree?
    Description: Discuss with detailed reference to at least two examples of research done.
    MLA style.
    Any kind of plagiarism or copyright violation is restricted.

It turns out this is a standard test for writers and there are several takes on it  see here and here and here and here and here and so on and so forth. At any rate, I got tied up in meetings on Monday and had a crowded weekend so I only had three hours to research, put my thoughts together and write up a coherent response to the question.

My Response:

Jacob Aliet
11 February 2013

Perfect Research: Is there Hope for One?

In addressing the question about whether there is hope of doing perfect research, we must first begin by understanding the clear meaning of the key terms. We can then seek to answer it based on the information available on the question. Research is an original contribution to the existing knowledge (Kothari 2) and can also be described as a diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories or applications. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word perfect as the quality of being entirely without fault or defect, or as satisfying all requirements.
The question itself is a subject of inquiry and it would be interesting to find out how many researchers have set out to do research with the objective of carrying out a perfect research and what their findings were. Researchers generally undertake research in order to answer specific questions. Usually, when the research yields the answers to the questions, the research is regarded as a success. But depending on the meaning of the word perfection being applied, even success may not be perfect. A satisfactory outcome may still be imperfect. If we use the word perfect to refer to something exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose, then yes, there is hope of doing a perfect research. And that would end the discussion.
However, in this paper, the word perfect is used to refer to the quality of being excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. Since the judgement for perfection or otherwise must be made in time, perfection as a concept is forever doomed to uncertainty about its true quality because we don’t know what the future holds. Perfection also has an arbitrary nature among men because what is perfect for a poet may not be perfect for a chemist or a lover whose flaming love is unrequited.
We must also note that it is a question formulated by flawed beings whose ability to understand perfection is itself not established. As such, from a philosophical perspective, it may be deemed as an unanswerable question because the seeker of the answer may not be fully capable of understanding the true answer to the question they are grappling with themselves. For our purposes, we will set aside the philosophical challenges and examine the question strictly in the context of research.
A perfect research may never be carried out because research as a method of arriving at knowledge is itself not perfect and relies on imperfect instruments. The process of research entails tasks that are subject to human judgement and other variables. These include data collection, sampling design, measurement tools and interpretation of data. These variables mean that when we have the same research conducted by different people, we may still get different results. This is with the exception of empirical or controlled research, but even in such cases, the degree of accuracy is often adjusted to simplify the results and make the ineluctable differences insignificant.  In historical research, where hearsay, second-hand testimony and secondary sources are used, a perfect research is impossible and historians resort to argument to the best explanation to explain certain historical events (McCullagh).
Another challenge in the way of carrying out a perfect research comes about because of the problem of induction. Induction is a form of reasoning that makes general propositions from specific examples. For example, when we see white swans all the time and then conclude that all swans are white, that is inductive reasoning. The problem with inductive reasoning is that we lack a mechanism for verifying that, in the whole universe for example, there is no black swan. In qualitative and social research, induction is employed when we derive empirical generalisations and theoretical statements from the data. Using the white swan example, research that is based on inductive reasoning suffers from the unfounded assumption that swans are white in all worlds. As such, such research cannot be guaranteed to be perfect.
Another problem is the finite and imperfect nature of resources at any researcher’s disposal. This includes time available for the research, the researcher’s knowledge of the subject and related subjects, the test subjects, the technology used, the scope of the research and the research objectives which are often specific. Because of their specific nature, they can only meet specific needs and therefore cannot meet other needs and thus, cannot be considered perfect. For example, social research may not be the perfect research for determining the size of a neutrino. Biblical research is an example of a field of inquiry that is rife with disagreements and paucity of data. Indeed, even determining the authorship and dating of the New Testament gospels can be so vexatious (Carrier).
Lastly, research entails discovery of new knowledge or revision of existing knowledge. So a perfect research would yield knowledge that is beyond improvement and would discover everything that is left to be discovered. But discovery never stops because of the vast nature of our universe, the unfathomable quality of what is unknown and what can be invented and the limitless nature of questions that can be asked. A perfect research would therefore close all lines of inquiry and that would go against the very spirit of inquiry, which is what research is all about. So going by this point, a perfect research is a contradiction in terms and is unachievable.
Based on the above reasons, I agree with Griffiths and conclude that there is no hope of conducting a perfect research. We also note that perfection is an unnecessary and unachievable goal to erect when conducting research because we are imperfect beings in an imperfect world carrying out imperfect tasks. Indeed, it is because of the imperfect nature of research work that we endeavour to have clear research objectives and lay out research assumptions and rely on experts during literature review to minimize the imperfections inherent in research work.

Works Cited

Carrier Richard. Ignatian Vexation. Sept 17, 2008. Web. 11 Feb 2013.
Kothari C.R. Research Methodology Methods & Techniques. Second Edition. New Delhi: New Age International Publisher, 2004. 
McCullagh C. Behan. Justifying Historical Descriptions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
"Perfect." Merriam-Webster.com. Web. 11 Feb 2013.

Whaddya think? Well, the client agreed and I should get started soon. I have been walking and now I think my calf has healed. I will go for a trial run tadey.
Cheers guys

No comments: