A Mid-Semester Check-In

By Vanessa Osuna

How do you conduct research? More to the point, how do you feel while doing research? Is the mere idea of conducting research as daunting as cleaning out your fridge, or do you find it as exciting as finding $10 in your pocket? Perhaps you’re somewhere in between. As students, we rely heavily on the research process. As women’s history graduate students, we are (re)discovering and reconfiguring the research process to fit how we work and the research subject.

What’s the research motto? Caffeine will get you through it! Just kidding. Kind of.

One thing rings true when it comes to research: it takes many different forms and requires different levels of energy. To simplify the research process (I know what you’re thinking, how can this be done?), I’m going to split research into two categories, search and analysis. Both categories consist of a long list of must-haves and must-dos, but I won’t list them here. Simplification is as important as complexity. Personally, I love searching. I love typing keywords or phrases into Google or the library database to see what comes up, what I find. The difficult part for me is not necessarily finding material but knowing what to do with it. What about you?

I realize as I write this that it’s not a very informative piece on research, but that’s okay. Let’s consider this a mid-semester check-in. Let me provide a reminder that the research process can be outlined and listed, but at its core, it’s an individual process for all of us. It’s okay to feel any way you do, so long as you don’t let it stop you from completing your work. Also, it’s a necessary process so you might as well embrace it or only just acknowledge that it is necessary. That’s okay too. Remember that there are loads of resources to help with the searching part. Now that we’re transitioning to actually doing something with what we’ve found, the analysis part, know that you’re not alone in that either. The writing process is a whole other conversation, but I will say that a well-researched subject basically writes itself.

We’ve heard it many times before, research is a solitary process, even a lonely one. Though, I’m not so sure. I’m here anyway, and so are my cohort-mates. After all, it may be nice to grab a cup of coffee (or tea) with those $10 you found in your pocket, and it may be that much better with some company.

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