Reading Time: 2 minutes
Sometimes I wonder how I have gotten this far within academia. Grad school relies on your ability to research, read, and write papers. Writing and sourcing information seem to be feasible task for me. Reading and summarizing what I’ve read, and then synthesizing this information effectively and in a reasonable amount of time are something I struggle with. So I am always in search of new ways to improve upon my reading skills and ability to effectively turn what I read into a coherent written literature review.
Currently, I highlight important concepts or excerpts from papers and write in the margins comments, thoughts, or connections to other papers or concepts. While this is good to do while reading, I rarely take it beyond that. Which is something I have been told is essential to do to help write literature reviews more effectively. Summaries of papers are much easier to review, rather than pulling out all the hard copies of articles every time I need to write something. Yes, I still predominantly use hard copies, I store the papers in a giant turquoise filing cabinet. I call her Gertrude. Needless to say, my current process is disorganized, and pretty well a mess. It is not an effective use of my time. I rarely remember what I have read by the end of the week. So I am stuck in a vicious cycle of reviewing things I’ve already read.
Recently, I’ve become more interested in open research. Open researchers seek to publicly share data, analyses, results, and reflections throughout the research process. This allows for more transparency throughout the research process, more engagement with participants, research can become more collaborative, and the validity of the data through feedback from participants and others is strengthened. However, another aspect of open research is the potential ability to engage in academic discourse with researchers, practitioners, and community members throughout the research process. While I have been planning on conducting my dissertation in the open, it was not until recently that I realized this openness and discourse doesn’t need to start only once the research study has begun.
What if I began my “open” journey now, while preparing my dissertation proposal? As I work through the literature review, summarize and share my thoughts online through my blog. I took to the internet to see whether people were using their blogs in this manner. From what I can see, the focus tends to be on writing a blog post AFTER publication to share results. I did come across a post about a PhD Candidate (now Associate Professor), Ulises A. Mejias, using the blog AS the literature review for his dissertation.
My goal is to take the final hour of working each research day, to summarize everything I have read for a blog post. A summary alone isn’t beneficial or interesting to you the reader, or even me as a writer/researcher. So I will also provide a space where I can note my reflections while reading, and make connections to the extant literature and my research project. I think this will provide myself the space to engage with the literature, and hopefully engage in discussions with the greater academic and non-academic community around the literature, as well as my future research.
Let’s see how this goes. . .