My thoughts on my research proposal: A fairly personal blog

I had a lot of trouble with this assignment. I'm not really a researching kind of person. I like to know stuff but I'm not that good at going out into the world to find it. I prefer to find someone, or some thing, that knows what I'm interested in and get the information from it or them.
Yeah, I'm still very much an English major.
So when I started my research proposal I was really caught up in the researching part, the methodology, the schools of research thoughts, two textbooks worth of theory and how utterly terrified I was that I had to come up with a way to make (make isn't the word I want here but it's as close as I can get right now) instead of just finding it. So I muddled through for a while, generally unhappy and worried about whether I was doing it right.
Luckily for me eventually I talked it through with a friend who finished her masters last year and she phrased it in a way that made a lot more sense suddenly: I could totally still use my tried and true method of going out and finding the information I was interested in, in fact I really couldn't do the proposal without doing that first.
And as I read through as many articles as I could get my hands on between making turkey and eating pie I started to see how other people got their information and how I could use their work and my specific interests to actually get new information.
Ultimately, I'm still not that sure that my proposal is very good because I think some of the frantic confusion is still buried in it somewhere but I feel more prepared to do the final research paper and that just maybe, I'm starting to get a handle on this.


Sara M. Grimes said...

You can even take this tried and true method a step further and approach your respondents as the "authoritative texts" or "leading experts" of their own experiences, thoughts/opinions, relationships, issues, etc. :)

But I know what you mean - there's still a level of analysis and interpretation involved that can be very daunting (especially initially).

Heather said...

I also had some difficulty deciding on the most fitting methodology for my research topic. In my case, my research will analyze how effective and accurate a particular virtual reference service is. However there are two words there that I realized needed a proper definition after reading Luker. How does one define ‘effective’ and ‘accurate’? What’s good enough for someone, may not be for another. Luckily, I came across good ol’ RUSA guidelines (thank you Intro to Reference) that have been updated to include virtual reference. At least there is some industry standard, and I’m not using my own judgement which may prove to be biased. Accuracy seems like an easier term to define though after the first term though. Luker’s section on ‘Operationalization’ is one that will stick with me as I think carefully of every word that will be used in my questionnaire (when the time comes). I remember her ‘Native American’ reference vividly from a previous chapter, and realize how various terms can be easily misconstrued from person to person.

mwells said...

I too come from the humanities, and get a little skittish when it comes to the tried and true social science research practices of surveying and interviewing real live people, and then (possibly) putting your findings through the statistical meat grinder to come up with some sort of invaluable result. In history, the people are mostly dead, and therefore can't be interviewed (there are those "oral history" folks, but I never mixed with them).

I came to realize, however, as you did, that my former training shouldn't just be kicked to the curb. You can at least start from an area that you're familiar with, and speculate on where you might go from there. I get the feeling that methodologies can change quite often over the course of a research project, so it probably isn't important to nail down a specific research "recipe" right away.

- Matt

Stephanie Lauren said...

I'm also struggling with the idea of having to interview real live people, as I come from a history background too. I'm very much a "review the literature and look at what experts have said about your field." To be honest, providing a historiography section in your paper is like second nature to me (and reading these sections during my undergrad was such a research time-saver!).

But I agree with Devon and Matt, there's no need to throw out our old methods! We just need to tweak them a bit and make them more useful for our current projects. Besides, all of our textual analysis skills will probably come in handy if we ever need to review pages upon pages of interview transcripts :)

Amy. said...

I'm a little late in weighing in here - but I think you took the right approach in tackling your proposal. I did the same, and found that by reviewing some of the existing literature on my topic I was able to get a stronger hold on my topic as a whole, and the appropriate research methodologies for my study subsequently fell in to place afterwards (and after another afternoon of additional readings)!
I hope your proposal goes well!

janifeer austin said...

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How to write a research paper

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