The Disciplined Researcher's 20-Question Guide

What is your success rate as a researcher? Does every effort advance your goals or bring you closer to resolving a specific research problem? Do you invest hours that generate no relevant information at all? Do record sets and databases never seem to yield the needed answers to your key questions about events and identities, associations, and relations? Or have you amassed great quantities of data that remind you of the Shakespearean line about “much sound and fury, signifying nothing”? ...

Together, We All Win

Citation Police? Puh-leese! Like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, there’s been an outcropping of alleged sightings lately. No proof, of course. But titillating stories are running wild. All the Police Brigade—the citation police, grammar police, and research police—make handy bogeymen for feeding agendas and nursing grievances; but they divide and handicap. They don’t encourage. They don’t improve us. Can we be practical about this? Historical research is not a them vs. us situation. ...
Lookups, Searches & Research: A Lesson from Queen Anne's Revenge
“There was not one aha moment,” said the spokesperson for the discovery of Blackbeard’s ship. “There was a collection of moments and a deduction based on the evidence.” So it is with research. Not so, with look-ups and searches. A fellow blogger, this week, challenged ...
EE Thu, 06/04/2015 - 13:28

Conclusion or Confusion?

What, exactly, is a valid conclusion for students of history? Are hypotheses legitimate? Do our theories have to meet the scientific standard? Is it enough for a conclusion to be "more likely than not" (aka, a preponderance of the evidence) or believable beyond a shadow of a doubt, to borrow standards used by courts of law? ...

Textual Criticism

Criticism? Who wants to be critical? We do. Or we should. Criticism, used appropriately, is a powerfully positive force. The critical evaluation of all material we use for authenticity and credibility—aka textual criticism—is ...

Newspapers, OCR'd Teasers, and Make-Do Citations

For researchers, the Internet is an all-in-one paradise, purgatory, and hell. It tempts us with wondrous things packaged in confusing ways. When mishandled or misread, it can create results for which some researchers will damn us forever. A recent query to EE’s Citation Issues Forum makes the point. We might paraphrase the question this way: How do you cite a website that gives you only a teaser—Twitter-sized snippets from many separate articles all run into one jumbled mass?" ...