This portion of Craft of Research emphasized the importance of maintaining specificity while crafting an argument, which clearly ties into the importance of the research itself. I know I still have plenty of research to do, but I’m confident that there is no lack of information for me to find in the direction I’m heading. Organizing all of my thoughts into a gingko tree was as helpful as anything I’ve done thus far in terms of grounding me and pointing me in the right direction for what to research next. I can see my thesis starting to take shape, and as I explore what I already have, more and more possibilities for expansion keep coming to mind.
I already have an idea for one of my paper’s major claims, which came to mind as I started making connections in my research. I’ve also found many new sources that I have yet to annotate that can hopefully lead me to more of these connections so that I can start forming the major claims of my paper and organizing my sources to find the best evidence to support them.
One thing that stuck out to me about this reading was the part about note-taking and such while reading sources. I must admit, I’ve never been the best at taking notes because I get frustrated with how much it slows down my reading, and prefer to internalize the information as I go. Thus far, my method hasn’t failed me, but I’ve also never approached a research project of this caliber before. I know that going forward I will need to push my research skills and take measures that I’m not used to in order to produce the best result possible.
I also found the part in section 6.6.3 interesting about summarization and how to do it properly. Of course, I know that when summarizing or paraphrasing from a source, I still need to cite it, but I don’t know that I had ever taken the context into as much account as the book suggests. Furthermore, seeing how all of my sources relate to each other will be interesting and possibly quite challenging, as my topic covers a broad scope of things. However, I think that drawing these connections is in and of itself the basis of my thesis.
After reading this section, I think that, when applied to my thesis, I will be using both primary and secondary sources in my research. I’ve already looked at some of Aristotle’s work with the concept of infinity, which, if I’m not mistaken, would be a primary source. Furthermore, one of the books I’m looking at, A History of Western Philosophy, would be considered a secondary source as I analyzes a lot of teachings from the ancient philosophers. All of my other sources at the moment are from the databases linked through our library’s page, which cover a wide range of topics.
In terms of the philosophical and theological side of my thesis, I’m not sure what experts I have access to. Like I said in another blog, Coach Anderson recommended a friend of his for the mathematics of infinity, but I’m not focusing on that lens of research for my actual thesis. My dad can probably link me to some theologians through his work, and I’m sure he himself has some valuable information that is applicable to my research.
One part of this reading I found intriguing was the part about looking beyond “predictable” sources. The idea of looking at plays when studying economy, as the book says, seems reasonable once it is suggested, but I don’t know that I would have ever come up with that on my own. It makes me wonder what sort of “unpredictable” sources might exist for my own research.
It’s not unusual for me to read something and wonder how an author knew exactly what I was thinking, but it seems to catch me off guard every time it happens. The concerns that the authors addressed in the last two pages of this reading are some of the concerns I’ve been struggling with since starting thesis. I always knew that the end game was this massive paper I would have to write, always looming in the distance. Though I do love to learn new things, I have to remind myself that it is alright not to have the answer to everything just yet. My inexperience with research of this caliber will no doubt cause me some stress, but I know that there’s no way to get better than to just get my hands dirty and put in the work. The other point they made that struck particularly close to home was that I shouldn’t try to tackle it all at one time. Inherently, I’m someone who likes to work at something very hard for a relatively short time and start seeing results. Though this sometimes works out, I’m going to have to overcome those expectations for the upcoming process of research. Nevertheless, I am beyond thrilled to see what the next year has in store for me in terms of research.
I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the book, mostly, I imagine, because I like having things broken up into categories like the authors did with the questions. Before that, however, one of the first points they made was that one of the keys to finding a viable research topic is whether or not there is a reasonable to be found. This is one aspect of research I initially had trouble with, as I was pretty set on doing something with black holes before I realized that I’m not going to discover any new theoretical physics as a junior in high school.
The questions presented in chapter 3 helped me to organize my thinking for my real topic in different ways. The first type were questions of history, which, in the case of my topic, might sound something like: What are some of the historical correlations between psychological/social development and musical development? If I can understand how music has affected or been affected by social change, I might be able to better understand why. Structural questions were a bit easier to come up with, as that category is the main basis of my topic. How do chord progression and key signature affect our psychological perception of music? This is, I would say, the guiding question of my topic, and all of my other questions are branches of this. Categorically, a question I came up with was: What are defining technical characteristics of different genres of music? Many studies have been done on what different types of music do to the brain, which will no doubt help build a foundation for my topic, but I have yet to find any that look quite as deeply as I’d like into the structure of these types of music. A negative question I thought of was: What types of music do not alter our perception of it? I feel fairly certain that things like tempo and key affect us psychologically, but perhaps the time signature on a piece does not do the same. Of all of the questions I came up with, my favorite was the “what if:” What if every piece of music was written in the same key? How would that alter the current day perception we have of music as it relates to emotion?
In terms of agreement and disagreement, the only major thing I can say at this early stage is that I wish some of the sources I read went deeper in their research and ask the “why”s instead of only the “how”s. As I said, all of my questions stem back to that structural question, which I hope will guide my research as work toward an end goal of developing an idea for specially prescribed music therapy. For my topic statement, I think it goes a little something like this: I am studying the psychological effects of music because I want to know what aspects of music trigger emotional responses in order to help my reader understand how the music they hear everyday shapes their mood and why.
As I begin this book, I’m finding myself fascinated by the authors’ voices and abilities to connect with their audience. The two most interesting points they made in the first two chapters were those about what exactly research is and the one about how to best connect with one’s intended audience. While I’ve known for a long time that research meant looking into something and learning more about it, I never thought of it the way that the authors put it in their first chapter. I never thought about the fact that I was doing research when I looked up an actor to figure out what I’d seen them in before. Research is a part of my everyday life, and when I think about it that way, the oncoming task of writing a thesis doesn’t seem quite as daunting. This approach to defining research is part of the authors’ style of the next point: relating to the audience. Though I consider myself a fairly proficient writer, I’ve never been all that great at connecting to my audience. I always feel like my work sounds jumbled and detached tone-wise. This might be just because reading my own writing sounds strange, but I’d like to work on it to a point where even I feel like it adequately connects to the intended reader. I learned from this reading that the key point to connecting with an audience is understanding who exactly I’m writing to. I’ve always just sort of spoken into the void when it comes to writing academically, so I think that considering my audience first will help me to write more fluidly.
A common theme between these two essays was the idea of existence in general and whether or not it is a “right” that should be guaranteed. Though one could make a reasonable argument for the positive side of this debate, there are some obvious holes. How can someone who doesn’t exist have rights? Is it then immoral to make a choice not to have children? If the answer to this question is yes, then we must look even deeper into the implications of the right to existence. Though it would mean that an immediate decision not to have children, what about all of the potential children that a woman could give birth to? If she has two children, is she infringing upon a possible third child’s “right to existence?” Furthermore, does our own opinion on whether or not life = suffering justify our reasons whether or not to reproduce? If one person believes that to bring a child into the world is to guarantee them suffering and another believes that the happiness of life outweighs the suffering, the “right to existence” becomes subjective. Therefore, it is impossible to make a statement on whether or not potential people are guaranteed the “right to existence.”