I'm writing a proposal to acquire funding for a competition to be hosted at my university. The competitors are restricted to graduate students who are engaged in research under the auspicies of a faculty advisor from my university. In the process of making my proposal more clear and precise, I find myself struggling with the problem of defining what exactly is (and more importantly, what isn't) research.
At first, I equated research with publishable in a peer reviewed journal, but I soon realized that the terms publishable and peer reviewed would have to be defined... And even if I do that, then I would have to define the words that I used to define those words, et cetera ad nauseam.
I want to approach it the same way I would approach mathematical set theory: it's either research or it's not, and there should be no room for ambiguity. But I suspect that any attempt to define research this way will certainly either circumscribe or inscribe the set of all things we call research.
I don't think this is necessarily the best way to approach defining what is research, especially for my purposes. Is there another way I can approach clarifying what constitutes research as opposed to other publishable works in the context of academia?