I Fall Down a Research Rabbit Hole

rabbit sliding down a tube
Rabbit down a hole

Sometimes you get a research question that’s totally fascinating, and also totally a stumper. Last Thursday was that day for me. I decided to document how I approached my pre-work before meeting with the patron, and y’all. I am MESSY.

When I get a difficult question I tend to be totally non-methodical about digging in to it. Instead I range widely and wildly around potential sources. Google, Wikipedia, MPOW’s discovery layer, and any number of subject-specific databases are all open at any given moment; I jump around among them looking for themes, common terminology, or something that is going to help me help my patron find the sources that are going to help them formulate their argument.

I’ve often thought that there are 2 types of information professionals: the scientists and the artists. The scientists work deliberately and methodically; they develop hypotheses, gather data, inspect evidence, and draw conclusions. The artists are less methodical in their approach; they may put several colors of paint on a palette, use a bit of this, a bit of that, some here, some over there, step back and assess, and adjust on the fly. Repeat and repeat, and eventually artists end up with a painting. Both types of people get places, they just do it differently. (Mind you, I believe both types are creative, valuable, and necessary to the profession.) I’m definitely of the artistic bent in this regard.

Evidence of that? Tabs (non-paywalled) related to the question that were open in my browser include:

The Fashion Institute of Technology’s library’s list of databases related to the fashion industry, helped me identify WWD (Women’s Wear Daily) as another potential source of information for this question. SUPER FUN.

I get to do this for my job, y’all. Tomorrow it’ll be something different, no doubt, and that’s even more exciting.

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