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.

2 thoughts to “Lost in Research”

  1. I really liked your first question. I felt the same way when exploring different research avenues. I see where you fear that the academic research could make your op-ed more scientific and in turn not relatable, but I do think that it is important to incorporate some. That’s what you know right! I do really like the argument of your paper and although you are second guessing your topic based on your research, I think you should stay true to what you really want to do. In the end I am sure your own voice will shine through (wow that sounds corny).

  2. Jeremy — The question you posed at the beginning of your post is SO relevant right now. When you read a variety of articles on your topic sometimes you feel as though everything that needs to be said on the subject has already been covered, or that maybe persuade to the point of changing your viewpoint on the subject. I think that’s actually okay, and perhaps you can encompass the variety of good sources into a multifaceted investigation of your own views.
    I agree with Allison in regards to including scientific studies. I wouldn’t be worried about your audience’s reaction to the jargon. Use whatever sources you need and you can iron out any kinks during the editing process.

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