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? :)