Researching is so hard and takes so long. I used to spend weeks preparing research. When I applied for PhD places, in 2005 and 2006, I spent a week at a time preparing my proposals for research. Usually the form asked for how it fitted in with existing literature but I had no idea, neither about the literature nor where to find it. Now, some years later, I listen to experienced academics discussing prospective research, a research quest to propose and contacts to network with for access. How sophisticated!
When I started the Masters in Research, I had no idea about academic journals, what they offered or where to find them. Yet I’ve just completed a systematic literature search of a business topic within days! What happened? I learned:
- about different sources of information
- relevant academic sources
- how to search
- how to keep an audit trail of my search
The technology helps. There are now
- academic databases
- citation software
- analysis software
These all help a researcher work as quickly as the ideas flow, without any hold up to visit some distant library to find a tome, methodically write notes and copy details. Douglas Coupland in the FT says we’re “rebuilding our neural structures”. When it comes to researching the literature, I’ve rebuilt mine .