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Saturday, February 16, 2013


Research is the general name for what we do, and also the name for a particular part of what we do. Research at the most literal level means gathering information from sources, as in "library research" or "archival research."

The rest of what we do is think, interpret, theorize, write, and edit. There are people who are good at tracking things down but not good at thinking or writing. One person I know is very good at research (tracking things down) and also very good at writing, but he is not a particularly good thinker or interpreter. Another person I know is a good thinker, but not a good writer, and not very handy in the archives either. I am not as good an archival researcher, but am very good at thinking, interpreting, and writing. The three of us together are all top scholars in 20th century Spanish literature, so it is possible to get ahead without being excellent in all three dimensions: finding things out / thinking through problems and interpreting texts / writing your books and articles.

1 comment:

Leslie B. said...

Do you think there is any point in calling some things scholarship rather than research?

At my university there is a bureaucratic point: research means it was visible in a traditional way, and scholarship means you are keeping current or doing something applied, something that supports your research or is a product of it.

Now, however, I am told that in the humanities we do not do research, we do something called scholarship. I find this irritating.