Research Is Not Always Pretty

Today we had one of those orientations that we’d prefer just to forget. Students couldn’t log in.  Articles wouldn’t pop up. And a search of one newspaper database brought up articles from another.  This probably did not go a long way in proving that research is easy or fun, but it did serve a purpose.

For those of us who go into academic fields, research is usually fun. But it is not always easy. There are false leads and dead ends everywhere.   We gather up information left and right only to discover later on that, regrettably, we can’t use any of it in a project. We set aside an afternoon for research only to find the books we need have been checked out by someone else or the database is down.

Recently, I found myself doing research on mobile devices in education. I thought I was going to have a fairly easy time of it since every search I did brought up hundreds of results. However, on further investigation, most of those were based on very small groups with little rigorous attempt to control variables. Others were simply based on self-reports. So I’m still slogging through material I can’t use. But that’s part of the process.

Of course, the librarians prefer that things go right during orientations, and I don’t blame them. But I still don’t find it a failure when things go wrong–because out in the real world, they will.

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One thought on “Research Is Not Always Pretty

  1. As a librarian, I like to tell students about TEL (www.tntel.info) Tennessee’s statewide electronic library so that (a) they know about it and the wealth of information it contains and that it it free for all Tennesseans, and (b) it is a good “plan B” if the NSCC website is down.

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