Picking a Topic was Hard, Starting Research is Harder

As soon as I chose my topic of goal-setting I knew I was going to come across a few roadblocks while researching. Since my topic is pretty intangible, I was immediately overwhelmed (see GIF below for reenactment) with the amount of information I would have to sift through in order to make my argument and establish my credibility. Did I want to start with online articles? Or maybe head to the library and ask a librarian? Perhaps I’ll check out the Netflix documentaries and see if there’s one that matches up. As you can see, I was struggling. Struggling big time.

Jon Stewart GIF

Initially, I thought the only type of research I would have to do revolved around the psychology of goal-setting. However, I’m starting to discovery that the history of goal-setting and why American culture in particular places such a strong emphasis on goals is more important for my argument. This shift is helping me to narrow my focus on certain aspects of goal-setting as opposed to attacking the entire subject.

Furthermore, my research will come from a combination of “traditional” academic research from scholarly journals and books in addition to more “popular” forms such as online magazines and websites. In particular, Forbes Magazine articles seem to have the most information on my topic that both agrees and disagrees with my argument. It seems like every time I scroll through Forbes.com, I find another article that I can use for my project. This is both a blessing and a curse because I feel like before I know it, I’ll have over 100 articles and no other sources. I will be making a conscious effort to diversify my sources to strengthen my argument.

Example Forbes Article

Finally, I’m most excited to learn about how other people view goals during my interviews. I haven’t decided exactly who I will be interviewing, what type of questions I will ask, or how I will conduct the interviews, but I am looking forward to diving into this. I think I am most excited for this part because I’m a people-person and love to share experiences with others. I believe experiential learning is the most valuable type of learning available. Thus, I want to use other’s experiences as a main point in my Repurposing Project, especially since goal-setting is an entirely human, and person-by-person, choice.

Some other things that might be helpful to know are that my topic is rather personal to me because I’ve always had an interest in the ways that goal-setting has inhibited me in my own life. However, I want to make my repurposing project relatable for all kinds of 20-somethings. Bridging that gap between too personal and too broad will be something I will discuss more in upcoming blog posts, so keep an eye out! If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments below. All of your suggestions have been extremely helpful!

Puppy GIF

Lost in Research

Should the direction of my Op-Ed drive my research or should research drive the direction of my Op-Ed?

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I have been struggling with this dichotomy the past few days as I begin repurposing my old argumentative essay into an Op-Ed for The New York Times. On one hand, I know what I want to say and I feel I can find research to back such ideas. This is an example of my Op-Ed driving my research, and this is the path I initially thought I would follow. However, as I read more and more about the current state of preventative healthcare, I feel myself being pulled down more and more avenues. I have found some of these articles so fascinating that I even considered changing the argument of my paper to further the argument of the research. This is a clear example of my research driving the direction of my Op-ed. Amongst all this uncertainty I know one thing to be true: the research process is forcing me to find my own voice within the current preventative healthcare conversation.

The majority of the research I have done so far has been “popular” in nature as opposed to “traditional.” I fear traditional academic research would make my piece overly scientific and therefore uninteresting to the audience I am targeting. I have been able to find a surprising number of preventative healthcare articles in The New York Times, which is ideal. I have gained perspective on both the topic of preventative healthcare and the conventions of publication in this particular medium. These articles, while all from the same source, have displayed great diversity (the cause of my aforementioned dichotomy). While it can lead to confusion, I feel diversity in research leads to a more holistic argument and piece of writing.

I look forward to continuing the research process in the coming weeks and eventually getting my first draft written. I predict a lot of “repurposing” will be necessary to transform my original source into  the Op-Ed I am hoping to write.

David Throwing Stones @lib.umich.edu

Since the Capstone Project was first introduced to our writing class last spring, I have occasionally thought of and jotted down ideas for what seemed like the most intimidating project I’ve been assigned to date. A few ideas were further developed after being recorded in my Notes app, but nothing was solidified. I knew one thing: this project would not surround business, which is my primary concentration. The problem was that none of these ideas was more noteworthy than the one that preceded it. They didn’t have the spark or pull that I was looking for; something was missing from this list of ideas, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Fast forward to the start of the Writing 420 course when the Capstone Project becomes a reality. An assignment to aimlessly browse the Michigan Library Research Guides seemed easy enough but I had no expectations for fruitful results. To my surprise (and slight dismay), my list of ideas quickly expanded to include topics I had never considered before: genealogy, architecture, numerous histories of remote subjects, an espresso book machine, and cartography, just to name a few. My initially close-mindedness quickly faded away as my list of potential topics tripled in size.

Although the list in its current form now looks somewhat daunting, I am comforted in knowing that there are so many paths to explore during the initial part of this course. It certainly raises exciting, new challenges for me to tackle as I take on the Goliath that is the Capstone Project.