Words of Wisdom

quotes Khrystine likes

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."— Mark Twain

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Craft of Research

The Craft of Research
 Part II, "Asking Questions, Finding Answers"  (29) describes how to find a topic and develop it into a research paper. What the authors describe is essentially a cycle of question, answer, question, answer. We choose something of interest (say, pug dogs) and then say, essentially, what about them? Then, for example, you say something like, "Why are they bred with such short snouts?" You find the answer to that question, which leads to more questions and so on and so forth. Their advice seems to follow this general sort of pattern.
In Part III, "Making a Claim and Supporting It" (103), for instance, they recommend following a similar but more complex pattern of look at some evidence, draw a conclusion, anticipate a refutation of your conclusion, answer the refutation. It is a way of looking at claims somewhat similar to a court case, where the lawyer anticipates the cross-examination and so prepares his/her witness. Part IV ( 171) is essentially a more detailed "cross-examination" of claims as well as guidelines for writing style.
This book also includes an appendix of possible sources for future research projects (283). This is quite exhaustive and well organized. It also covers a wide range of topics.
This, combined with the anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book, the authors create the feeling that they are both knowledgeable and really understand what it is like to be a student, which reminded me of my uncle who works at CSU-Bakersfield. It also seems like they might work in different disciplines, however the author's note puts them all in English and Literature. This just further shows what a good job they've done being interdisciplinary.

Some ideas I especially will try is to use this appendix and other bibliographies to study things further. I think this will greatly improve my chances of finding usable evidence; as for now I simply type topic names into Google.
I also really like Section II  (29) because I always feel momentarily panicked when thinking of research topics. I also panic at some point during the research as well. The specific questions and templates the authors give for narrowing down a focus are extremely helpful, but not so complicated it feels like another assignment to answer them. 
A strategy I would like to implement is the storyboard (176). I have used storyboards in editing big group projects, but never a personal, individual one. It sounds a lot better than trying to keep nine separate Word documents open that I will never delete in case I lose something. So much copying and pasting...and being very visual and spatially oriented, it seems likely it will get my creative juices flowing as well.

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. WIlliams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008.