You Can’t Read Everything!

Graduate-level research is daunting. How do you negotiate the digital dilemma? You must master available information relevant to your research topic, but there is much more information available in published books and, especially, in digital form than you can possibly absorb. Moreover, once you filter out irrelevant information and focus more narrowly on what you need to include, how do you organize and store it? Whether you’re a beginning graduate student or a seasoned veteran, you are not alone in grappling with such issues.

In a recent blog post, Going Digital, William J. Turkel (Univ. of Western Ontario) offers three guiding principles:

  1. You won’t be able to read everything.
  2. Assume that what you want is out there, and that you simply need to locate it.
  3. The first online tool that you should master is the search engine.

Turkel provides very useful advice for all three principles. In particular, he recommends seeking the help of librarians because “they tend to be nicer, better informed, more helpful and more tech savvy than the people you usually talk to about your work.” Trinity College has truly excellent librarians who provide expert assistance in specific research areas. You can get research assistance through online chat or by using the online scheduler to see a research librarian. They’re ready to help!

In addition, Turkel provides very practical advice to beef up your online search capabilities by enhancing search engine techniques. And he provides links to digital research resources such as Lisa Spiro’s Getting Started in the Digital Humanities and Digital Research Tools wiki.

So don’t just thrash around by yourself, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Get help! Acquire new tools! Do it right! Be happy!

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About William Barnett

I am Director of Graduate Studies at Trinity College (Hartford, CT).

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