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Research Now

But research when?

I firmly believe that librarians should aspire to do more than support the research endeavors of others. Is there any reason why librarians cannot lead research projects, combining a vision of end product with mastery of processes? I have much to learn with respect to the latter; however, our reluctance to address the former as yet in our series I think is striking.

It would be inefficient for an academic researcher not to have a clear intellectual vision of where they are heading with their work; that vision is imposed by the researcher, usually as a result of his or her prior knowledge. How can a researcher judge of the usefulness of a piece of information without an intellectual vision of the anticipated whole? In reading (for example), he or she will pass over content that could be productively integrated into the argument if he/she does not have a clear idea of that argument before reading begins. Artificial it may be; efficient research it is (at least in many fields).

Returning to our project, I find myself wondering when and if a vision of the whole will emerge. I have been given to understand that the urge to find one at this stage in proceedings would contravene good archival principles; but still I struggle to grasp how mastery of processes can ever give meaning to our materials – not all of which should be digitized (surely?).

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