Monday, August 4, 2008

Take a deep breath.

The Social Sciences Research Council sent me a pretty useful book a few weeks ago. It's meant for social scientists, of course, but I've gleaned some helpful hints from it even though I'll be doing archival research, not sociology/ethnography/anthropology/etc.

Overseas Research: A Practical Guide
By Christopher Brendan Barrett, Jeffrey W. Cason
Published by JHU Press, 1997
ISBN 0801855144, 9780801855146
142 pages

Looking back on my previous overseas research experiences, I can see one thing that I really needed to do better: ask questions. I was really young and therefore embarrassed, so I tried to fake my way through the research experience on my own. I did a pretty good job, really, but if I could give my younger self one bit of advice, it would be: ask questions BEFORE you leave. All those professors leading your graduate seminars? They did what you're trying to do at one point in time--ask them about their experiences. They may not be so forthcoming--part of getting a Ph.D. is proving you can figure out your research yourself, I think--but for the most part, I think your professors want you to succeed. If they know something useful, they are probably going to tell you.

As for myself, I've forgotten everything useful I once knew about doing research in the U.K. The British Library has completely changed, of course, and I just don't remember much about getting into use the library at the R.I.B.A. And I know absolutely nothing about doing research in India. But if I learn anything interesting, I'll write it down so I can remember to share it with my fellow graduate students once I return.

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