6 August 2014
Creativity in historical research is a good thing. It doesn't mean creating records. It means creating new ways to look at those records and link them into something greater than individual tidbits of information. If you're looking for ways to develop your creativity, here are six of them:
1. Avoid "group-think." If everyone has the same theory, try another.
2. Question "the rules." Why does everyone say, "Do it this way"? Rules exist for a reason; but we have to understand the reason before we can decide if it is being validly applied to the case at hand. (This, of course, is why Evidence Explained does all that explaining!)
3. Break routine. If you do things the way you've always done them, you're going to get the same results you've always gotten.
4. Look at the problem backward. A sunset may be red and orange; but if we turn around and look east, we see silver, blue, and black.
5. Read one good case study every week—from a peer-reviewed journal that discusses its methodology and analyzes its evidence. Ideas are like plants. They don't thrive in sterile soil and they need cross-pollination.
6. Never accept defeat. A brick wall is not a dead end. It's just a wall we haven't yet learned to climb.
Photo credits: "Business Creativity and Success Concept," CanStockPhoto (http://www.canstockphoto.com : accessed 4 August 2014), used under license.