5.07.2012

On Writing: The Problem of Research

{ Original image from Christopher John. Remixed by Lynn Daue }
{ Used under License CC BY 2.0 }
I started research for one of my articles this past week, and I ran into the problem of doing academic-level research.

Because I originally got the idea for this article from reading the pop-anthropology book Manthropology, by Peter McAllister, I started my research there. I spent about two hours going through the chapter that was my inspiration, making notes and marking every original source that he used in his research. Upon finishing, I started to look for the original sources.

That's when I ran into trouble, as well I should have: McAllister used sources to which I don't have access. They're all academic-level sources, either published theses or pieces in academic journals.

I'm not entirely sure how to gain access to these sources. The University of Maryland has a Community Borrowers program for which I'm eligible, but I'm not sure if I need to join the program simply to poke around and make a few photocopies. Our local library has an Ask a Librarian program, through which I can gain access to materials that I normally wouldn't, but I haven't looked into the program fully enough to know how to use it.

For me (and, I'm sure, for many people), there's also the issue of time. I can't drag my kids to the library to do research, and I'm not positive that I want to hire a babysitter for the time I would need to go out to College Park, learn my way around, and get home. Plus, everyone has been sick lately, ranging from snotty noses to mid-grade fevers, and it's really been hindering my progress.

How do you overcome the pitfalls of research? I'm taking any and all tips.

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4 comments:

  1. Are you familiar with JSTOR? One-stop shopping for academic research. I used it all the time as a grad student and I think they might have opened up access so you no longer need to be affiliated with a university to gain at least limited access. I'm not sure what an individual account might cost, but worth looking into...

    It's at www.jstor.org

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  2. No, I wasn't familiar with JSTOR until now. I just signed up for an account, and it appears as if registering is free! I'll have to use it to make sure that accessing information is gratis, but this is a huge step in the right direction. Thank you!

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  3. Hi Lynn -
    You might want to check in with what is available to you as a member of the Community Borrowers program @ U of MD. Reason why I suggest this is that they be able to copy articles for you and send them to you for free or for a small fee. Also, most universities have an alumni library card. This way, you can be a part of your alum and have online access to much of what you need.

    Another option is to check out the main branch of your local library and tell them what you need in terms of resources. Again, they may be able to get a copy of the resource for a small fee or free (it depends),

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Monique! It turns out that our Ask a Librarian program through our local library is amazing - they were able to track down one of the articles I needed AND emailed it to me within hours, and they're helping me find the theses I need today. Go figure, the public library system works!

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