Sunday, February 12, 2012

Diving In!

 As with high diving, getting started on a research project can be scary.

Understandably, there are those who prefer to wet their feet by the side of the pool for a long while before taking a plunge. Then there are those who just jump right in without even testing the waters!

Either way, I can understand the nervousness. Those are deep waters. And they might be cold.

There is no one right answer to how one should go about getting all the way in, but, as with diving, usually we emerge from that initial plunge feeling refreshed and excited, saying things like "It's not so bad!" and "Come on in!" to those still at the edge.

For those of us wondering how to take that next step I recommend setting the following goals. This week: 1. Do a little googling of your topics (including google scholar). 2. Check an encyclopedia entry on your topic (perhaps more than one). 3. Look to see what books have been written in your area(s). 4. Check to see if there are any dominant and important sources or authors referenced in those books and encyclopedias. 5. Talk to someone who has done a lot of research in your area and see what authors and sources he or she recommends.

When the waters get deeper we will be finding scholarly journal articles. Be they philosophical thoughts, historical analyses, or scientific studies, in almost any area there are smart people who have addressed these interesting issues. When you get down deep under that water, you will find that you are not swimming alone!

But for now let's just have fun getting wet.

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