Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Media Research vs. Traditional Research

This semester my opened my eyes to a whole new way of doing research: research blogging. I learned that new media can be a very powerful academic tool by turning my research into a social endeavor. I discussed this idea in my very first post, where I applied Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" to scholarly research. Being able to document my research process online also made sure that none of my ideas were wasted, but instead available to anyone who has access to the internet. Blogging also made it possible for me to connect to other people with similar academic interests, evident in the response my post E-mail to the Mormon Archipelago received. All of these advantages helped fulfill course learning outcomes, especially Composition Process, Using New Communication Tools and Engaging with Literature Independently and Socially. All of these benefits also relate to the BYU Institutional Objectives, which encourage advancing truth by contributing to "the world's storehouse of knowledge" and forming relationships with people outside of the university community. Many of these objectives are much more difficult to obtain, especially for undergrads, through traditional research in the print paradigm.

However, I believe that traditional research still has its advantages. As I discussed in my post Tool or Distraction, traditional research allows time to actually think and formulate ideas. Sometimes this semester I had difficulty thinking deeply about my topic because of the constant flow of new comments, new sources, new bookmarks, new tools, etc. Along these same lines, I think it is easier to stay focused on the literary text in traditional research. Another one of the Learning Outcomes for the class is Analysis and Use of Texts. While I got lots of practice analyzing online texts, I had less time to focus on secondary and literary texts.

Obviously, both types of research, traditional and new media, have their advantages and disadvantages. I think the key to success is breaking down the barrier between these two methods, creating a hybrid process that takes advantage of the strengths of both methods.

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