I’d never really given conscious thought to how I research before now. It just seemed like a natural process. After reflecting on the readings, specifically Information Search Process by Carol Collier Kuhlthau, I realize I do follow the set pattern that her article and others suggested. The only deviation I noticed is concerning the emotional aspects of searching. I generally enjoy the research so thoroughly that I don’t often become frustrated or discouraged during the exploration process. That tends to be my favorite part of the process, in fact.
Though I did engage in some primary research as an undergraduate student, most of the research I’ve done as a student has been secondary research. Unless I’ve been given a definite assignment to research, I typically begin with exploring a general area of study to determine what interests me in that subject then narrow it down until I discover something I’m interested in, something I’d like to learn more about, etc. I find this is a really effective way for me to find what I’d like to research, while still staying within the assignment parameters. It tends to work better than the times when I’m given a topic or I pick one without doing any investigating beforehand, because I’m happier with my topic and therefore do better work.
Once I’ve identified the topic, I generally try to outline what areas I’d like cover and put together a list of keywords and sources. After that is where I run into trouble. to As I stated before, I love researching, partly because I love to gather as much information as possible. This is fine if I’m doing it for fun, but can become a problem if I’m researching for an assignment because I get easily distracted. I’ll find myself jumping off to a different topic because I’ve come across an article that interests me, even if it has little to do with my research question. On the one hand, I have been able to expand my research scope or develop ideas for future research, but on the other it does hinder my ability to manage my time and lower my efficiency. This is something I’d like to improve. I want to be able to streamline my process to become more efficient.
I also hope to learn more about effectively using resources for research. Until taking LIBR204 last summer, I hadn’t given much thought to effective information retrieval, either (This seems to be a theme with me. Thank god for library school!). That class really opened my eyes to the way databases and other digital resources are used. I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my skills since then.