The evolution of research


If you look back twenty to thirty years ago, the process of analyzing research was structured differently compared to that of current day. Data would be sent out to scientists in various labs across the world to crunch the large numbers researchers gathered. They would then receive the calculated results weeks later.

Researchers would begin their studies with books they got from the library, whereas now they might do a simple Google search. When tackling a research assignment in today’s world, 93 percent of students go to the Internet and never once set foot in a library, as EdTech reported. Research devices are now easier to transport, and can measure statistics and variables that researchers struggled to in the past.

Teaching With Ease

When Ball State University health science professor Jagdish Khubchandani reflects on research he’s done in the past, he first thinks of how long it took to get mathematical calculation results on studies he researched in 2003 while in India. The data he had gathered would be sent off to researchers in another country, and roughly a week later, the results would be sent back to Khubchandani.

It was a lengthy process, but the technology to calculate such large numbers more quickly hadn’t been invented yet. Researchers would send information by mail because emailing the information wasn’t an option in India at the time. Today, Khubchandani can get research calculations instantly. There are no waiting periods or delays. He can get his research done more efficiently and in a timely manner.

Outside of the lab setting, technology has completely evolved Khubchandani’s teaching methods inside the classroom. There are now projectors and desktop computers for instructors in almost every classroom he has taught in. In past years, he might have used a chalkboard or overhead projector for his lessons. Today, Khubchandani can go over PowerPoints and post them online for students to review at their leisure after class. Students no longer turn in assignments on paper, they simply submit them online.

Khubchandani explains that because of recent technology, students have more resources in the classroom. In courses today, over 90 percent of classrooms use technology in some form, EdTechReview reported. Some students aren’t even going into the classroom as a result of the increase of online education growing in popularity. EdTechReview wrote that 32 percent of students are taking online classes as they pursue a higher education. A downfall, though, is that one-third of professors consider online education inferior to face-to-face learning.

But Khubchandani isn’t completely sure how the future of research or education will be impacted by technology. He says it’s something that is still unclear to most because of how much has advanced in recent years. He described it, simply, as interesting and something that will hopefully promote more research and innovative thinking.

It has already come a long way, and will most likely continue to evolve even further.

Creating New Options

Cara Karamacoski, a sophomore exercise science major at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), is a research assistant for their Department of Kinesiology. The objective of Cara’s research is utilizing FirstBeat heart monitor technology to quantify fitness-related outcomes in a Division 1 women’s soccer team. If it weren’t for the advanced monitors the athletes wear, her research would not be possible.

Advancements in technology have not only created new ways to conduct research, but they’ve also opened up the options for studying more topics, like Cara’s sports research.

The research Cara does works like this: The IUPUI women’s soccer team voluntarily wears FirstBeat monitors to record physiological information in real time during practices, games, and off-season conditionings. The player wears the device as it measures heart rate and VO2 average. VO2 is the maximum amount of oxygen intake that someone can utilize when they are working out at maximum effort. In return, those two variables can help in analyzing players’ performance and recovery. It can show hints that a player is exhausted and has been worked too hard.

Knowing that a player has a high heart rate and VO2 levels tells Cara and her research team what intensity level the player reached. The end goal of their research is to prevent injuries and overtraining.

The monitors that Cara uses in her research are very easy to transport, making it easy to go to practices and games in different locations. The devices themselves are small enough to fit in a backpack, and she collects the data on her laptop

Cara says that although the FirstBeat Monitors are an advancement and allow her research team to gather the data they need, there are still ways that the monitors can be improved. She would love to be able to collect even more physiological data that could help be the best players out there, such as red blood cell count.

FirstBeat monitors focus on the physiology of the heart. The heart is considered the most important muscle in the human body because it sustains life and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood each day, as the Science Museum of Minnesota reported. Because of its sustainability, FirstBeat monitors a recipient’s heart and its ever-changing nature. Physicians and researchers are better able to understand what is going on inside the bodies of athletes and its impact on their athletic performance.

There are currently no FirstBeat monitors that collect red blood cell count, but Cara hopes it will someday be a reality. She thinks that it would allow her research to become even more accurate. Being able to monitor an athlete’s red blood cell count can help indicate dehydration or breathing issues, two other indicators of player exhaustion. This can be important to know because red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, thus correlating with VO2 levels. Knowing an athlete’s red blood cell count and VO2 level can allow teams to play and practice in a safer manner.

The evolution of technology has and will continue to advance in ways that will allow researchers to dive even deeper into their experiments and studies.

Impacting Professions

As soon as sophomore Bailey Prather, a health education and promotion major, gets assigned a research paper, the first thing she does is google her topic. She generally only looks at the first four to five research articles that come up, and begins sifting through them. Bailey says she does this because she always has her laptop with her, and thus has all of the information she will need at her fingertips. Throughout the entire research process, she only goes to the library to type out her paper, not once using Bracken Library’s extensive research catalogs.

The Internet has allowed access to thousands of scholarly and research articles. The University of Colorado-Boulder reported that many students have felt the need to bypass library research completely and go directly to Internet research, never once utilizing library resources.

In some cases, the amount of readily-available Internet and research articles can be positive. Having direct access to scholarly articles can help students have a broader range of materials to choose from, and can reach more people in general, as Khubchandani discussed. Another way that technology and research articles have impacted lives today is in the health community. People are able to better educate themselves with health terminology and conditions.

Technology has allowed people to better monitor their health and increase communication with healthcare professionals. Khubchandani reflected how people are able to increase better health awareness and in return be able to communicate with health professionals more efficiently. Patients are able to challenge their doctors, something Khubchandani says is a good thing.

Patients should be able to challenge their health care professionals because it allows for a more patient-centered treatment. The patient is the one that has to live with a course of treatment or operation, so it should ultimately be their informed and educated decision that makes the final say.

Having the Internet as a research tool does have its consequences, though, says Khubchandani. According to the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Internet has become a place for biases and false truths. Anyone can post content on the Internet for others to see.

Some people don’t know truthful web content from fabricated material. This can cause problems because it can put people and a company’s credibility in jeopardy. Once a company or individual has been proven to have published false content, it becomes very hard for their work to be taken seriously again, Khubchandani explained.

According to OpenMind, an organization dedicated to sharing and spreading knowledge, almost all aspects of our lives have been altered since technology increased its presence in our lives. Students have scholarly articles at the tip of their fingertips, research has allowed for better data gathering, and people are able to self educate. As Khubchandani says, there is no telling what the future of technology will look like. But, how we establish facts and reach new conclusions will evolve as technology broadens.