Monday, June 20, 2005

Research Tip

So I'm doing a chapter on Blogs for a research methodology textbook this month, but was frustrated by the lack of established literature in the area; the obvious disadvantage of being an early adopter...but the thing is, I knew people out there were doing studies in the area in which I was interested, and that these were in the pipeline, but it might be a year or more before those studies see print in journals. I needed to know what was happening now, so that my article would not be obsolete by the time itsees print...

So, I used a trick taught to me by Holly Gunn, which is to do a Google advanced search set for PPT documents. And bingo, I hit maybe a hundred relevant power point presentations, mostly done for conference papers but also some inhouse stuff, by the various researchers in whom I was interested. Motherload! Some great stuff here which probably won't show up in articles / journal indexes for another year or three. With the added bonus that the pointform allows one to scan information even faster than in an article format, often with detailed notes in the 'notes' section of the slide if I need to pursue the matter more deeply.

Of course citation becomes a bit trickier....but most of the ones I'm citing are from clearly designated conferences, a few from course lectures; there are only a couple that are by "Mike and Judy" and no other clue as to identity...though I can always track down their server and sometimes backtrack from their to an institution and therefore faculty list, etc.

Of course, the other great source of information has been various research blogs...these are quickly becoming the way to develop and diffuse new ideas...journals now have to be thought of as secondary sources, solidifying material originally discussed (peer reviewed and anointed) previously in research blogs. With RSS feeds, keeping up with latest research developments is possible for those in the loop, but the digital divide is leaving a number of my colleagues somewhat behind the bleeding edge... I sometimes suspect my course content is two or three years ahead of some colleagues because I can google and blog, whereas they are waiting for the journals to come out.... Of course, the risk is that I will include some early data that will subsequently turn out to be in error, but it is a reasonable trade off....

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