Research: Beauty or Beast?

Photo by Favim.

This is the season of research for me. I'm working on a conference paper about the Grimm fairy tales and a historical paper about them. I've been feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that I've found, and I often find that I get lost in the abundance of articles and books on the subject. There is a positive side, though. By December it will all be over! I'm kidding, the real bright side is that I'm actually finding that I'm having a good time reading and learning about my interests.

I think that when doing research there will always be times when you look at it like the beast that it truly is, but then there are other times when there's beauty in the process (mainly found near the completion of the project). lol I've been reading some helpful books on the how to do good research, and here some tips that I've found helpful.

1.) Pick a topic that you can stand reading A LOT about.
2.) For a standard research paper (9-12 pages), don't pick a subject that's too broad.
3.) Don't limit your thesis in the beginning. Often when researching, you'll find that a good thesis evolves after gaining more knowledge on the subject.
4.) Ask questions. What do you want to know about the subject? What stands out to you as different?
5.) Take periodic breaks from your research, if you can. This will allow fresh eyes and perspective on your work.
6.) Gain your knowledge from a variety of sources: primary and secondary. Use books, articles, newspapers, journals, etc.
7.) Read other perspectives that you do not agree with. This will allow you to make your claim (argument) solid because you know what other thoughts are out there and how to address them.

When tackling a research project, whether it be a book or a conference paper, keep in mind that there will be times when you want to just throw in the towel. Don't. Finish what you started. Keep going. You can do this. Heck, I can do this... right? :)


Emily Wood said...

Great post! When it's all over, you will find yourself researching without even realizing you are doing it! At least, that is my experience. LOL :)

RD Meyer said...

I've had to do a lot of research in writing my books. It's funny, but I never had to do so much research before I started writing fiction, ie - making stuff up. :-D

Vanessa Eccles said...

@ Emily - I can't wait to get to that point where I'm simply researching for fun. :)

@ RD Meyer - It's like Twain said: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." I did loads of research for both my novels, especially my first one which is a historical romance. Research isn't so bad when you're just filling in the gaps of your own imagination, right? :)

Rebecca Camarena said...

I have written so many papers for my English Literature degree, that I have it down to a science. After you do so many of them you don't feel as overwhelmed by them.