In research, relevance implies that there is a sense of purpose both contextually and for audiences (Oliver, 2014). The two perspectives of context include something that surrounds activity and something created through the weaving together of artifacts and practices.
When considering relevance in terms of audience, one specific area of interest are the researchers, pracititoners, designers, and policy-makers who find research relevant to their own distinctive interests. The format in which research is presented matters. “Relevency” of research depends on the interest of the audience considering it, which can leave researchers with the difficulty of serving either politically or naively (Oliver, 2014). To navigate through the implications of relevancy, there is a need to build connections between fragmented communities of researchers working in the broad field. Likewise, further work is needed to help practitioners to share principled accounts of their practice and knowledge. Finally, there is a need for awareness of the social process through which research is produced and used (Oliver, 2014).
I very much recognize that considering relevancy of research is very important to contributing to the field. Dissertation wise, this has absolutely made me bonkers. I am still struggling to find that one concept that will be both survivable, but relevant. Did I mention survivable? I battle with the idea of relevancy, my interests, the audience, and the political context of my few dissertation concepts, and believe ultimately that I’ll have to make an appointment with someone in the field who can help me to put relevancy into context.
Oliver, M. (2014). Fostering Relevant Research on Educational Communications and Technology. In Spector, J. M., Merrill, M. D., Elen, J., & Bishop, M. J. Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer.