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How to write research: my professor's method

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  Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: How to write research: my professor's method
    Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 09:09
This was a professor that I had at Berkeley; she was a leading scholar on Roman poetry. And here is the magic technique:

Read about the subject, make your opinion about, and write the paper. Then go and look to see what other people said about your thesis.


Upside down from the normal prescribed method, but it sounds very efficient to me. After all, if one runs into evidence that runs against your original thesis, then you just have to adjust it.

Your opinion?
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 10:36
 
...all valid points Hugoestr....
 
....With regards to methods, i would like to elaborate on the point of 'reading about your subject'....i was always advised to initially treat the task in question as being a large ring of concentric circles (its a bit long winded i know but it makes sense)...with the centre of the circle being the actual target or purpose or question concerned with the research....
 
...start by reading  and resourcing material from the outside and gradually work your way in with ever finer and detailed work until by the time you have reached the 'target', the body of knowledge acquired and greater understanding should be sufficient to answer or write about in great depth and with authority...
 
..for example, if one was asked to write about the fall of Charles I, one would not go straight to a biography of Charles I and write up a response from that alone, it would wiser to look at the broader matters first, like the social and political state of England, government structure, poltical and social relationships etc etc  and then gradually work your way into the 'centre' towards the main issue.......(this is very simplified but i hope you see what i am getting at)....Smile
 
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  Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 11:46
Hmm, I guess I didn't make myself clear enough.

Actually, her system was the opposite of what you describe. She would sit down and write about Charles I first. Then read biographies. Then read about other stuff
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  Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 12:05

Act of Oblivion
If I may ask, the method you described can only be used if all factors are well known on forehand?
If thats the case, I agree on the method being good for picking up other information in the process.

But on the other hand, to stay with your example, if the fall of Charles I was a mystery and never researched before, the method described would, in my opinion, be the least productive one could chose out of many, and inevitably a lot of time would be used reading and examining issues which could have nothing or only very little to do with the center question and possibly leading to vital factors missing.

I hope we can agree that there must be a difference in method, depending on the assignment:
1. are we describing something or
2. are we researching something.

Admittedly, my opinion does not come from experience as a historical author but from a lifetime of practical and theoritical logical deduction, problem solving and pedagogical authorship on those and similar issues.

~ Northman

 

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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 12:31
I tend to follow the system that includes reading everything that even vaguely applies to the subject, forgetting half as I go so I have to re-read, making notes along the way which I cannot decipher afterwards and finding out that the piece of info I did need and did remember, I did not write down, so that I have to sift through the whole lot again to find it, and go on like that until my deadline is days away, at which point I will start spewing all the info I took up in arbitrary order, then sort it in some sort of semblance of narrative and hope it still makes any sense, and at the end I will add an conclusion which reflects what I hope is in the text.
 
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  Quote Ovidius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 12:43
No no no no....

Find a General topic, make baseless theories, get a working method, go to the sources, let the sources guide you, update theories based on the research.

Start with Secondary sources, thats the most important point. You cannot do good research without at least tertiary knowledge of what was written beforehand. In cases where you are doing something specific - micro studies, biographies, case studies - contextualise based on general ideas. Work with the history of the time to work out developments within the smaller study. But always have a knowledge of the secondary literature. Its also vital that you have a theoretical understanding of how to treat the texts you are going to approach. From Literary theory, to understanding the intricacies of oral testimony etcetc. Its important to understand the work you are analysing before you approach them.

Primary research, if you are doing a primary source based piece, must be guided by this research. Not be the secondary literature, but by what is sat infront of you.

Frame your argument based on that research, use the sources to find interesting aspects or a method or present something new.

But its important to start with General knowledge, then work to something more concrete.

My research is always - Get a topic and a working theory, then move to the evidence and allow that to shape the work in transition.

But on the other hand, to stay with your example, if the fall of Charles I was a mystery and never researched before, the method described would, in my opinion, be the least productive one could chose out of many, and inevitably a lot of time would be used reading and examining issues which could have nothing or only very little to do with the center question and possibly leading to vital factors missing.


If Charles I was a mystery, you would still need to uncover the period in someway. You need theory in the first place, not too much to overwhelm youself, but enough to really get into the evidence you are using.

Now, ok if a topic is TRULY original, which is difficult but still possible. Then you need not find secondary texts to guide you research. But you still need to back up your research with something, you need to contextualise it somehow. Charles I analogy does not work here, but lets change it to Charles of York (an unknown person of the Civil war, a biography). This is probably original research, based on newly uncovered or previously unused source material. However, you still need to know about York, the period, the historical development, The context surrounding his life. It doesn't matter how original it is, there is still groundwork to start with. If you jump into the texts straight away, you will not know all the surrounding factors and will, perhaps, not fully understand the things that an individual/group/whatever did or didn't do.

You wouldn't attempt to solve a soduko puzzle without at least understanding the rules in someway. Otherwise you would just put the numbers in any place?


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  Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 18:14
Yes, of course background is essential but if you, like you first stated, always start off with baseless theories of any and all kinds, you will learn alot while reading and trying to prove your theories, - just to discard them.
You benefit greatly from the process but it doesnt bring you closer to the goal - or in best case - very slowly.
 
If I got the assignment, the unknown Charles of York, a biography, I would attack it from the center instead. Trying to find out as much as possible about the man himself and his acheivements and then spreading it out in larger and larger circles along sevearl radials i.e. his ancestry, childhood, education, wife & children, lovers,  friends & enemies, surrounding circumstances, social, political, economics etc etc - until I think I have a basis to tell what shaped this man to whom he was. If I at some point think "this couldnt have brought him to do what he did" - then I know I need to look for other directions (along radial lines from the center) that I didnt think about in the first place.  
 
I would not start with a handful of theories, stating that he probably was like this or that, and then try to prove myself wrong.
 
Knowing the rules of the Soduko game alone, doesn't help you much to put the numbers right - logical deduction will solve the puzzle.  
 
I'm probably in no position to even discuss this with you - but that never kept me from stating my opinion Smile
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2007 at 19:29

Originally posted by hugoestr

Hmm, I guess I didn't make myself clear enough.

Actually, her system was the opposite of what you describe. She would sit down and write about Charles I first. Then read biographies. Then read about other stuff

 

...Yes, i did understand what you were describing, and as far as i can see, the method you have described would be ok...my post was was just to elaborate on the methods available, and my response was just another example(sorry, I do not think I was being clear)I might have a go at using the method you have given and try and compare it?

 

Northman noted that.

If I may ask, the method you described can only be used if all factors are well known on forehand?

No, that is not what I am saying, that is exactly the reason why I would offer my example, because the factors may well not be known beforehandby starting out from the outside as it were, and then gradually looking inwards, the writer should be able to discover more relevant information and pertinent factsfor example, if you did not know anything at all about Charles I, you could at least find one general book/article/website etc and from then on, work from that by engaging more and more details such as bibliographies/references etcat any given time, the writer should always have in the back of his or her mind, the original topic or question..remember, at this point, you will not be writing up the finished article, you are gathering information in order to reach the target and then attempt to answer the topic..

Ovidius has already noted

Start with Secondary sources, thats the most important point. You cannot do good research without at least tertiary knowledge of what was written beforehand.

such a method should lead directly to primary sources and other secondary reading material and so on and so

Northman also observed that

But on the other hand, to stay with your example, if the fall of Charles I was a mystery and never researched before,

given your example, if the fall of Charles was indeed a real mystery or unknown then a writer would not be engaging the subject in the first placemost topics of historical study have some form of information attached to it to begin with, could be any form of record which contains a single word mention, a legend, a myth, a single primary source, a verbal descriptionthere is always a beginning it is then up to the researcher to use this information to gain more insight  and evaluation, that is what research is, that is what a historian would doif all is known about the topic, then there would be no reason to elaborate any further, but as we know, historical topics are stones in shifting sand, perspectives and opinions change

Northman also noted

the method described would, in my opinion, be the least productive one could chose out of many, and inevitably a lot of time would be used reading and examining issues which could have nothing or only very little to do with the center question and possibly leading to vital factors missing.

..i would disagree entirely with this statementby using a such a method, indeed, a lot of time maybe used, but if a writer or researcher is using too much time, then that is a question mark over the abilities of the researcher, not the material in questionsome of the material might have very little to do with the central question, but a good researcher and writer should have the skills necessary to deal with this and be concise, analytical and aware of what or what is not immediately relevantfor example, if you were studying the Vietnamese Tet Offensive in January 1968, would you just look at records or information relating to 1968?, just the Tet Offensive? just the Vietnamese view? just the issue in January?of course not, you would look at the preceding years and months, the post offensive years and months, the American view, perhaps even the whole Vietnam war in order to gain as much information to allow quality analysis and informed opinion to take place

Northman adds

I hope we can agree that there must be a difference in method, depending on the assignment:
1. are we describing something or
2. are we researching something.

Certainly I can agree that there can be a difference in method, my example has been proven by personal experience to be effective and productive, others will have differing systems and ideas, if the end product is of high standard then there is no argument from me

..Aelfgifu wrote that

 

I tend to follow the system that includes reading everything that even vaguely applies to the subject, forgetting half as I go so I have to re-read, making notes along the way which I cannot decipher afterwards and finding out that the piece of info I did need and did remember, I did not write down, so that I have to sift through the whole lot again to find it, and go on like that until my deadline is days away, at which point I will start spewing all the info I took up in arbitrary order, then sort it in some sort of semblance of narrative and hope it still makes any sense, and at the end I will add an conclusion which reflects what I hope is in the text.

..which is pretty much my behaviour and example summed in  more practical and lifelike terms!!!!!

..i hope this has managed to clear up my thoughts a little, while I understand and take on board and very much welcome your opinions Northman, and totally respect your knowledge and methods, the logical approach is not always something that fits neatly into historical studythere is room for well thought out logic and analysis leading to fact, but it is rare for history to be so conclusive with the idea of presenting facts, to open up a whole new debate (but not here!!!)..what are historical facts?.

 



Edited by Act of Oblivion - 19-Mar-2007 at 19:31
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 04:56
Yet, I can't understand why the idea of the person writing the research wouldn't first write as much as he (or she) knows about the subject and what he (or she) guesses were there situations and contexts. Then, after such writing is finished, the author reads it through and starts checking the points he or she suggested or added in without much knowledge in it. In this case, the research would be much more interesting since the paper reflects the original views of the author upon the subject and it reflects what might be generally thought of the subject but what have turned out to be wrong.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 08:12
Originally posted by rider

Yet, I can't understand why the idea of the person writing the research wouldn't first write as much as he (or she) knows about the subject and what he (or she) guesses were there situations and contexts. Then, after such writing is finished, the author reads it through and starts checking the points he or she suggested or added in without much knowledge in it.
 
..i can see what you are saying Rider, but i would have to assume that when approaching research, the writer would not know a significant amount of info about the subject in the first place, surely, if the task was set, then it would be the job to find out more.....yes, one might have some initial information on the subject and some ideas where the piece might be heading, but it would be unwise to write up based on that alone...it might serve as a 'template' or 'work plan' for researching but not the end product.... 
 
...i do not think there is anything wrong with writing up odd bits of material as the research process moves along, possibly outlining thoughts and ideas as material is accessed, in fact, this is what i do, but it would be bad practice to set things down using limited information and try to start writing up the piece without having employed a suitable amount of research, now that would be a waste of time, and bad practice from the researcher and issues inevitably change as the research moves along.......as for 'guesses', what is the point of 'guessing'?...one could provide a thesis maybe? but what is the advantage of writing up the 'finished' piece on guess-work, and then going back? Surely it would be better to gain as much research as possible then look at writing up the finished version....then it would be a case of presenting the material and other skills come into play....edit, edit, edit, and edit again is a pertinant thought....(and that applies to thoughts and ideas as well as the written material)
 
  
the research would be much more interesting since the paper reflects the original views of the author upon the subject and it reflects what might be generally thought of the subject but what have turned out to be wrong.
 
... but a good peice of written historical material  should contain 'original views if at all possible, that surely goes without saying? quality history writing should attempt to contain original thought and analysis, i cannot see how my given research methods would be a bar to this, only the skills of the writer could be called into question if this is not the case...starting from the outside and looking in enables the writer to 'flesh out' any initial thoughts and ideas, by definition, these will be limited but as, in my case, using this method, the journey into the centre reveals more and more info and will expand upon the limited information one started out with...that is one of the aims of research....
 
....history writing is not generally approached in a scientific manner (although i am aware that some believe it can be)..the naunces and ever changing aspect of historical information does not practically allow for a rigid approach..one must keep an open mind and the gathering of information allows this to happen, have first thoughts and ideas by all means but it would be dangerous to commit this until all the relevant research has been attempted...
 
..how many times have we seen some members post initial 'thoughts and ideas' about topics and then to find themselves being rebuked for not having done their 'proper research'???
 
..i know it is debate that can run and run...and i guess, at the end of the day, if the researcher ends up with a well-researched piece and within any of the constraints placed (time, finances, availablity of sources etc) and if the final product stands on its feet and can be subject to constructive scrutiny.....how one gets there, is perhaps besides the point, what i have a offered is just a method which i have learnt through hard work, making mistakes, practical employment experience, and observations from those more qualified than me, as being a productive method of research....


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 20-Mar-2007 at 08:16
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 11:01
Originally posted by AoO

as for 'guesses', what is the point of 'guessing'?...one could provide a thesis maybe?


What is the point of guessing? No idea... but it is rather fun if you guess and the guess is correct. Let's say I have no idea on what the fifteenth emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire did and my task was to find that out. I would most certainly try to first place him into a century, and then in my mind think through what he might have done politically, whom he might have fought, what might have been the public views about him. Now, when I have finished thinking over these, I'd take a book and read. As simple as that. I would be confirmed if my guesses were correct and which of them were false. I am guessing presently that the person lived in the sixth or seventh century and was largely responsible for the initial losses against the Arabs. I can not give a name to him however but I also assume that he was honoured by the people and he was not very skilled in war. Now, I'll take a book... wait a second:D... Now, I have read about him... (i really did). His name was Konstantinos III, and he became the Emperor on the 641 year. He died the very same year. His time was already after the initial success of the Arabs although they had a lot to conquer yet. Now, his rule isn't very well known but he seems to have won some victories against Persians during his early years. Another point proven false... I will not continue this however.. I'd consider this more timely but you'll learn what of your assumptions about anyone are wrong or right.. I must say that I have never practiced such way of writing but should try it out...

Well, I can only agree with you, but must also add to this.

While your method is as correct as any other, this gives a much too large emphasis on the surrounding climatics and views, while possibly not concentrating enough to the centerfold topic. Yet this is where the skills of the author come into play - a skilled writer would surely notice this and add up from all things to get the balance correct.

Now another issue is perhaps this that if you come from outside in, you will notice every detailed thing there is to notice and you might concentrate on one of these too much, picking the one that you like (or dislike) the most in your mind. Again, the skills of the writer come into play.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 12:00

..hello again Rider

 

but it is rather fun if you guess and the guess is correct.

 

..well, I must agree if that is what actually happened!!!..i can only applaud such an effort and path of discovery, and it should be fun, but without losing the original aims of the enterprise

 

While your method is as correct as any other, this gives a much too large emphasis on the surrounding climatics and views, while possibly not concentrating enough to the centerfold topic. Yet this is where the skills of the author come into play - a skilled writer would surely notice this and add up from all things to get the balance correct.

 

..this goes back to what I stated earlier about always remembering the task in question while evaluating and researching your sources..if a researcher or writer has given too much emphasis on the climatics and views, while possibly not concentrating enough on the centrefold topic, then this again, is a critique of the researcher, not the research method.

Now another issue is perhaps this that if you come from outside in, you will notice every detailed thing there is to notice and you might concentrate on one of these too much, picking the one that you like (or dislike) the most in your mind.

 

..once again, we are criticising the skills of the researcher not the method, and what if the writer does discover a small detail that turns out to be of significance? By concentrating disproportionately on the centre, such a facet might be overlooked? and with that in mind, I can totally agree with your final statement

 

Again, the skills of the writer come into play.

 

..please do not get me wrong, I am not advocating total acceptance of what I have described, it would not only be foolish, it would be arrogant in the extreme and disrespectful to the opinions of others.all I am saying is that researching and writing history is an extremely difficult task to do very well, and every effort using the skills necessary and the sources available should be employed, using the method I have stated allows the researcher that amount of scope, if there are problems with how the researcher uses that method, it is the researcher at fault, not the methodI could use my method and still make a complete pigs ear of the final product if I do not use the other factors and skills need to conclude the task in an efficient mannerif one has access to the largest archive of sources, the end result could still be terriblethis method is but just a tool to employ and one I have successfully experiencedif the end product is of a high level and as I have noted, presented within the restraints imposed, then the method worked..mine is just one that I offer if anybody is unsure what to do

 

..hope that helps a bit more

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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 14:08
Sorry, I didn't mention in my previous post that arguably the best research would come out of such that would combine all aforementioned ways and thatway gain power over separate weaknesses.

Originally posted by AoO

is a critique of the researcher, not the research method.


This is not true I think that the researcher picks the method, yes, but the method defines the way in what the research will be written in the end. Isn't it so?

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  Quote Ovidius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 15:41
Originally posted by Northman

Yes, of course background is essential but if you, like you first stated, always start off with baseless theories of any and all kinds, you will learn alot while reading and trying to prove your theories, - just to discard them.
You benefit greatly from the process but it doesnt bring you closer to the goal - or in best case - very slowly.
 
If I got the assignment, the unknown Charles of York, a biography, I would attack it from the center instead. Trying to find out as much as possible about the man himself and his acheivements and then spreading it out in larger and larger circles along sevearl radials i.e. his ancestry, childhood, education, wife & children, lovers,  friends & enemies, surrounding circumstances, social, political, economics etc etc - until I think I have a basis to tell what shaped this man to whom he was. If I at some point think "this couldnt have brought him to do what he did" - then I know I need to look for other directions (along radial lines from the center) that I didnt think about in the first place. 


Yes, thats all true. Except you are forgetting the reason why Historians place so much importance on Context. If History was simply a matter of going straight to the sources, then what a waste of time History degrees would be? right? Would a Lawyer go into a courtroom with no understanding of the law? of course not.

Two things are important. Theory - this depends on the subject you are looking at. I'm a cultural Historian, well "training" to be one, now that requires on each project I do, research into the central theories of the souces I'm going to use for my projects. Literary theory for instance, is a useful guide into deconstructing texts. I study the Balkans, so an understanding of 'Balkans', 'creation of the other', 'Orientalism' and many other theories that have an impact on the study of the region within a project are vital for understanding the way i should approach a topic.

Methods also can include studying texts that have a similar aim. So for theoretical backing for our 'biographical' account, I'd read historical biographies and frame my work within that broader background. So I would show the ways in which i support that method and will take that method and criticise methods and create new ways of doing things.

So Theory is about finding the method you will take. It is like a guidebook into a topic. This is what i meant about Sodoku. You are correct, the rules merely give the guidelines of how to logically solve the puzzle, the logical solving is the main part of puzzle not the rules, but you cannot play without those rules. This is how research works, you need to frame why you are studying something, how you are studying something, the problems of studying in such a way etcetc. Its about framing your work and giving weight to what you study.
 
If you just jump in at the deep end, you will not be able to work out what is important. You will not know whether or not sources are reliable or accurate. Its ok going from the centre, but you don't know what the centre is? You just shape what you want to shape basically, you have sources and are you intepret them as raw data, you do not have the theoretical basis to clearly understand what is important?

So for a biography, the mentality of the person. You would never be able to understand this. A guy leaves a Cow to his Wife and 10Shillings to the Church. Does that mean he loves the church more than his wife? Can you understand the importance of the Cow? Well no, not without outside reading.

All this is just to do with PREPERATION, you train yourself based on the task you want to complete.

[/QUOTE]


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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2007 at 16:08
 
..hello again..
 
This is not true I think that the researcher picks the method, yes, but the method defines the way in what the research will be written in the end. Isn't it so?
 
...i can see what your are saying, kind of, but then again, no, not really, the method provides the material and it is up to the researcher to  determine, establish, describe and interpret what is written from what has been gathered from the sources and work put in....an extremely good researcher would perhaps be able flesh out more material from limited sources than another less experienced or less able researcher...the method will only provide a way to access sources, the end product is always in the hands of the writer....if the writer has  questionable research methods, then there are questions marks over the researchers ability........in that regard, if a poor method is used then yes, i suppose, this would affect the final presentation, but that will be down to the researchers poor employment of knowledge....in my experience, poor quality work is not always down to poor researh methods, it is due to not enough research being done in the first place, in a sense, no research method was applied at all.....
 
....it takes lots of practice and experience to reach a proficient standard, and as i have noted, learning from mistakes and poor methods in the past will lead to better skills within the researcher....i am not sure there is one 'style' of research that anyone can 'pick' and then go off and write quality history..there is much more to it than that and this will come down the researcher's level of skills and awareness of what is being atempted....
 
..to be honest here, i have recognised that my own skills in the past have been of a very low standard, and this is mainly because my intellectual capabilities have always been poor (rubbish at school!!..lack of application and so on)..for someone who has a passion for history, my capacity to remember things is appalling, but that is my biological make up....it is also why i find these discussions very hard because i am not very good at writing off the top of my head, i am used to editing, checking, and re-checking because i put a lot of pressure on myself to do the best i can (now you know why my posts can be a bit haphazard!!!)
 
.....however, i am lucky enough to have in place a very high level of self-awareness and self-criticism...and it was this that made me work (very) hard to develop the skills i need complete my tasks, there is no natural ability with me, i have try and try all the time, focus constantly and my research papers, i now think, demonstrate that i have attained a reasonable level....i constantly think about what i am doing because i can lose the flow so easily, therefore to bring my sad little story to an end Cry, my research methods have adapted to a fine tuning that works for me...and i have found that by using the method i have described, i can cover the majority of aspects and thought needed to finish any given assigment to a good level....i am not patting myself on the back here, but this is exactly why i raised my game in the second year at university from a probable 2:2 grade to a first class degree with honours at the end of the third year....but boy was it hard!!!!!.... 


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 20-Mar-2007 at 16:21
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  Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Mar-2007 at 18:32

Act of Oblivion and Ovidius

Thank you both for comprehensive and illustrative answers. It has been a pleasure reading and learning from your explanations, experience and examples.

My initial aversion towards the method in question, described by Ovidius as "Find a General topic, make baseless theories, get a working method, go to the sources, let the sources guide you, update theories based on the research." is founded in my previous function as manager of a faculty with 15 IT-teachers.
They all went through a 2 year pedagogigal study and I was co-grading their works through theses studies. In all cases the method mentioned was used, starting off with one or more theories - followed by a comprehensive research and subsequently resulting in a conclusion of the outcome from the entire research.
There is no doubt about the value of the research for them as a learning experience, collecting backgroud material, reading through piles of books, so yes - the process is fine.
But, regrettably only rarely I found the conclusions to be of a value that all this amount of work should reflect, and updating the theories to fit the conclusion can hardly be of professional value.
But of course, it make the work as a whole look much nicer.

Your explanations supporting the method have certainly confirmed the value of background research as a learning experience, whereas I remain a little more skeptical if we are talking about more objective oriented research - working towards a predefined goal - like a biography.
 
Maybe a combination of methods would prove worthy.
 
Thanks
 
~ Northman
 
 
 
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Janissary
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  Quote sunnyspot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jul-2007 at 02:23
This is how I do it.

You can read all the material provided about a subject, but how are you going to know what to note ? How do you know what is important to underline, what to keep ? How do you read ? How many books can you get through ? What did you really learn ?

Do you get credit for reading ? No. So make it count. I need to know what I am going to write before I write it. I need to know what to look for before I find it.

So, I write down what I think - generally - and find ways to argue my theory. The quality of my essay, at the end of the day, is about my METHOD. A point will fall or stand on the qaulity of the analysis.

Example, my theory is that the British encountered Aboriginal resistance when they came to Australia. Now, I have to find evidence of this. This flies in the face of conventional history that Australia was 'colonised' peacefully. What questions can I ask ?

When did the English first arrive ?
Cite the encounters with Aboriginals ?
Were they hostile ?

Where do I find this information ?

This is the most difficult part. Where do you go to find out something as obscure as this. Surely, if it is not out there already, then it simply doesn't exist.

That's the real challenge I find.

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  Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 12:41
That's the way I did it- I read heavily for about 1 & 1/2 years (not all the time!) about the Roman republic, and without doing that, I wouldn't have the broader knowledge that I have now with which to slot in my articles' area.
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