Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet…
Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet Materials
To be a library researcher
1.1. Design work
You need one or two clear empirical questions, one or two clear theoretical ideas backing up those empirical questions, and four or five general research questions. Once you have shaped these things into a good three-or-four-page document, you are ready to launch into the midphase. This will take four or five iterations.
1.2. Bibliographical work: bypass the needle-in-a-haystack situation and go straight to the needle shop.
1.3. Browsing and scanning by eye.
3.1 Some materials are primary: with respect to your project they are data.
3.2 Some are secondary: it asks the same questions as you do and uses the same kinds of data. Other scholarship on your topic.
Key at this stage
1.4. Real reading: reading whole texts at a thinking pace: spending a minute or more on each page.
Active reading, fully concentrated on the text at hand.
You start passively learning the terms, the people, the events, the ideas, and the problems that pervade your project.
Think of such active reading as multitasking concentrated onto a single source
In the foreground you are parsing sentences; in the background you are putting those sentences into an understanding of the argument, posing questions to the text, noticing odd references and hints of related ideas and texts, etc.
Take reflective notes.
1.5. Start some files.
Main folder for business matters, correspondence, a to-do list, and a master log of what you have done.
Design folder: current and past versions of the design document.
Bibliographical folder: for references and log so that that you don't repeat searches you have already done.
Analysis & Writing
2.1 Read primary materials (brute force vis-a-vi scanning & browsing)
2.2 At the same time process bibliography, scanning/browsing
2.3 Filing the materials
Invent topics and headings.
2.4 Minianalysis: bibliographical essays (which will tell the reader where you’ve been and where you need to go) to biographies of central characters (always useful and full of leads to related topics) to descriptions of central organizations (necessary to any further study of those organizations) to quantitative analysis of relevant statistics (which may identify other numbers you need to gather and analyze).
2.5 Design (redirection): revisit your main design document on a regular basis.
Write, write and write
In ways it differs from scientific research
First, It is parallel in nature: you are doing most of its sub-tasks most of the time. Everything will seem illogical and out of order. But you must nonetheless keep control of this massively parallel endeavor and guide it to a successful final product.
Second, library research is not mainly about finding things. It is about creating them.
Ch2. A Library Ethnography
3.1 Indexing (details of finding specific kinds of materials)
To retrieve information you muse uses indexes.
To organize your project you must create an index.
Passive index (i.e. internet) vs. active index (i.e. tagging)
How to create active index?
a) associate items into more and more general categories. Hierarchical classification. Things are indexed by the name of the various higher classes of which they are a part of.
Example: Linnean classification of living things; LC indexes.
b) The second general indexing scheme associates with each item not a concentric set of labels, as in hierarchical classification, but a limited number of potentially unrelated pointers (e.g. tags) that indicate (index) it.
Example: Library of Congress record.
Controlled vocabulary: a list of words that have been explicitly defined as indicators of concepts.
One of the central analytical tasks is to develop your own controlled vocabulary. You need to identify the 20 or so centrally important concepts and phenomena in your study and create fixed definitions for them.
Main kinds of indexes available
(concordance index): (+) easy to apply; (-) works on words, not concepts.
Human-based subject indexes
True keyword index
: author themselves assign particular terms under which they want their work indexed. Author-chosen tagging.
True subject index
with controlled vocabulary.
Involves 2 steps:
2) to attach this conceptual analysis to a controlled vocabulary, one word per concept.
There could be several words for one concept, there are also places where one word inevitably denotes several concepts.
1) conceptual analysis of the text
Advantage: Parsimonious and more useful
Problem: They depends on the material (either the indexer or of the controlled vocabulary)
Making emerging topics less visible.