Crying Babies and Finger Monkeys

This is how I feel about research:

[Baby crying]

It makes me very sad. I really, really dislike it. I was going to say I hate it, but the word “hate” seemed a tad too strong. I’m not sure why I feel this way–maybe from the painstakingly horrible research papers I had to write in high school on topics I cared nothing about, or maybe its my need for instant gratification that research, if conducted well, does not allow. For previous classes, I usually attempt to do the least amount of research that will suffice for a given project.

When I began reading the “Using Sources” chapter from the “Craft of Research Reading,” I was hesitant. I didn’t think anything helpful would come from it since I’ve read endless articles on research for my Communication Studies and English courses; however, as my eyes continued idly reading, something changed. On page 94, its says, “You don’t have to agree with the conclusions to do the research; in fact, its argument does not even have to be relevant to your questions, so long as its data are.” This was new.

Whenever beginning┬áresearching data in the past, I remember typing only the key words for my topic into ArticlesPlus and typically used whichever results came up first. For example, if I were trying to find information about the behaviors of finger monkeys (pictured below if you are unfamiliar with finger monkeys), I would type “finger monkey behaviors” into the search bar.

[My favorite animal, the small, but mighty finger monkey.]
[My favorite animal, the small, but mighty finger monkey.]
Would articles and research about finger monkey behaviors come up? Yes. Would it be a well rounded culmination of all the data on finger monkey behaviors? No. Perhaps there is a large body of work on the behaviors of Pigmy Monkeys, a close relative of the Finger Monkey. However, I would not know this if I limited my research to data on the Finger Monkey. This information may not be completely relevant to my specific project, but it would still be helpful to know these things.

The emphasis this chapter placed on conducting sufficient research made me rethink my role as a writer. I used to believe I could write about whatever I wanted, and because I was a good writer, it would just turn out well. However, now I know that if I do not complete extensive and topic-encompassing research, I will be disappointing my readers. It would be a disservice to them if I did not provide them with the most comprehensive amount of data possible.

Another piece of the “Craft of Research Writing” that makes me think different about my job as a writer is the emphasis on the importance of casting readers accurately. In the example on page 18 of “Connecting with Your Reader,” the author warns against this reader miscasting because, “When a writer miscasts readers, she can lose their trust and ofter their willingness to read.” When I read something, especially pieces assigned by professors, I often find myself thinking about my reading level. As an elementary school student, I always had an above average reading level, but some of the readings I’m assigned for class now make me┬árather want to throw my laptop than finish the 40 page article. This thought made me connect with the importance of analyzing my audiences.

As I begin my repurposing project, I hope to use this new knowledge to improve the relationship between myself and my readers. If I end up choosing other people who have experienced loss as my intended audience, I want to make sure to read through every draft as though I am eight years old, just having found out my dad passed away. I recognize the need to write empathetically and I hope this will translate well from my thoughts to the page.

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