Looking into the Research Process

By • Mar 1st, 2008 • Category: Models

Digital History Hacks: All is Flux

One of the main purposes of this site is to serve as a place where faculty and students can focus on the process of research and scholarship. We all spend our lives surrounded by the products of research–books, journals and artistic works–but often the process of preparing the work is invisible.

In his keynote at the Teaching Learning with Technology at JMU, Gardner Campbell talked some about the limitations of traditional definitions of information literacy. As part of his presentation, Gardner talks about how a colleague–a Pulizer Prize winning poet–was amazed at the fact that most of the students in the class skipped right over the key to understanding the work “Don’t they know how long a writer takes to choose and epigraph?” Probably not, since most of them have very little experience with books as they are written.

Same thing happens with other types of research in the humanities. As Bill Turkel noted in post a while ago, even graduate students work with research model that is pretty linear:

  1. Formulate question
  2. Do research
    • Collect a bunch of sources
    • Decide which look most promising and skim through those
    • Read the most relevant ones carefully
    • Take good notes
  3. Write
  4. Publish

In the world of digital scholarship, some researchers follow a much different direction. The journals on this site are venues for you to write incrementally and informally.

  • Until your interpretation stabilizes…
    • You keep refining your ensemble of questions
    • Your spiders and feeds provide a constant stream of potential sources
    • Unsupervised learning methods reveal clusters which help to direct your attention
    • Adaptive filters track your interests as they fluctuate
    • You create or contribute to open source software as needed
    • You write/publish incrementally in an open access venue
    • Your research process is subject to continual peer review
    • Your reputation develops

Feel free to join in and help us make this new 21st century model work for us.

Tagged as:

is Gene Roche is director of Academic Information Services with responsibility for assisting faculty in using technology effectively in their teaching, learning and research. He also has an academic appointment as Executive Professor in the School of Education where he teaches courses in educational technology planning, emerging technology, and adult education and works with with students on independent study, dissertations and comprehensive exams. Current projects include working with the SOE’s Executive EdD program, co-chairing William and Mary’s Survey Center, and serving as chair of the Electronic Campus of Virginia. Gene completed his AB degree at Hamilton College and his MS and EdD degrees at Syracuse University–all in the snow belt of upstate New York. Before coming to William and Mary, he was the Director of Career Services at Hamilton and taught in graduate programs in Adult Education at Syracuse University and Elmira College.
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