Hi and welcome back! I am here yet again to impart some more wisdom upon you from Booth, Colomb, and Williams’ book The Craft of Research. I read more of this book over this past weekend and I have to say, it has definitely helped me lose some of the fears and worries that I have had since first hearing the words “senior capstone paper.” Here are some more quotes from Craft that I think are worth sharing with those of you who have experienced this already or who are in the same boat as me.
“Get control over your topic by writing about it along the way. Don’t just retype or photocopy sources: write summaries, critiques, questions, responses to your sources” (66).
This is definitely a great piece of advice. I know from experience that photocopying sources when they are a million pages long (but actually, more like 20) or copying and pasting sections of it into a word document is easier and less time consuming but honestly, none of the information is retained and no new discoveries can be made by the person researching. Since I am on the research stage of my paper, I have been actively taking notes and finding patterns, and by doing that, my topic is starting to evolve from an interest to a worthwhile research opportunity.
“ You can’t learn the ropes of research if you don’t know where they are, and you won’t find where they are if you don’t ask . . . The only embarrassing question is the one you failed to ask but should have” (71).
I have a feeling that I am not the only person who does not like to ask for help with anything, especially when it is about to encroach on the carefully constructed façade of independence that you have worked so hard on to maintain. Well, tough; researching is all about asking for guidance when you need it to complete the tasks you are assigned in a timely manner. For my capstone paper, I have a limited amount of time to do research before I have to complete my final paper; by asking my faculty mentor or librarians for help finding a particular source sooner rather than later, I won’t have to stress as much when it comes to the final stages of putting everything together.
“When you start looking for sources, you’ll find more than you can use, so you must quickly evaluate their usefulness; use two criteria: relevance and reliability” (76).
It is easy to find hundreds of sources that can apply your research topic but most of the time, only a small percentage will actually have something valuable to contribute to your research. I think that it is important to get through this step as early in your research as you can; the faster this happens, the more time you have to focus on the paper itself. Reputable databases are always a plus and by asking a librarian or faculty mentor, those sources are easier to find.
Until next time.
explore. muse. create.
In case you haven’t looked at The Craft of Research after my first post about it, check it out using the information below!
Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Third ed. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2008. Print.