A good research project starts with a good research question. By this, we don’t necessarily mean something that is “good” or “important” or “meaningful,” although these concepts do affect the discussion. A project that is investigating the most impactful or meaningful concept can be immediately made impossible if the actual research qustion that is being proposed isn’t effective.
As an example, consider how many (but, of course, not all) research projects come to be in computer science education (CSEd). The pattern often goes like this:
While a bit cynical, it’s not hard to see this happening to many faculty who focus on teaching. Educators with large teaching loads are often spending the bulk of their time preparing and running their courses and don’t feel like they have time for extended research project planning.
It’s not to say that there isn’t value in the reflective “here’s how [thing] went” papers. In fact, there’s an entire track for that at the SIGCSE Technical Symposium called “Experience Reports and Tools!” But the goal of the DEERS project is to help researchers move from these more reactive and reflective research papers to more planned, empirical projects.
Consider some of the issues that can come from presenting these experience reports as research projects.
Sometimes, you “find what you’re looking for,” even when that’s not what you were originally out to prove.