A3Writer: Research Attitudes
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Research Attitudes

            Research is a double- many-edged sword. When I sit down to research, I can run up against a stone wall for what I’m trying to look for. I can approach it with dread knowing that this isn’t going to be pleasant. I might not be interested in what I’m going to research. I might fear the answers to my research. I might fear the time lost (even wasted) in research. I frequently fear the time lost (due to excessive interest) in research.
            But through all that, there’s one constant: research needs to be done. It’s not always pleasant, but it must be done, and it should be done the right way. I want to do my best to understand the material I’m looking at, whether it’s forensic ballistics, scarf-weaving, cooking, or dark matter physics. I need a level of proficiency, and so I go at it.
            One thing I never do is give up. When it comes to research, I find an answer. It may not always be the answer I wanted or expected, but I find an answer.
            Of late I’m noticing among students that there’s an attitude of not trying. Of being unable to figure out a way to research. I’m trying to understand this, but it’s difficult. Technology has made research easier than ever, so it’s mind-bending to think that students can’t conceive of a starting point for research.
            I remember the card catalog and primitive electronic databases with half a dozen keywords. It was hard then. But now with the sheer number of databases, cross-listed keywords, and Google’s vast search empire, it seems ridiculous that students can’t find a starting point to their research.
            Am I being unreasonable? Is it really that hard to do research?