More about research

What are the little jobs you do while you wait for your computer to do something? This morning, I was waiting for a scanned document to arrive via email and perused my to-do list. I needed something that would fit (more or less) in the time the email would take to arrive and that wouldn’t distract me too much.

So I chose ‘sort out filing cabinet’, not the whole thing mind you. I did the stationary and my self-employment drawers recently. This meant the middle drawer. The place where I had filed my original research for the volatile fickle unpredictable undependable price of oil. I freed a stack of cuttings and leaflets about eight inches high and remembered the way I started my research into oil, once I realised I was writing a book.

 

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All that lovely research destined for the recycling bin

You may recall that my interest in oil started with another clean-out. Emptying my garage before moving house got me wondering about rope and how the tough fibrous rope of my youth had been transmogrified into slinky, pale-blue plastic. Answering that question whetted my appetite for all things oil. Well, I started to pull out articles from newspapers and magazines (mainly my engineering journal ‘Engineering and Technology’ and collected them into a big pile. As I used them I filed them, neatly in plastic wallets and cardboard folders. One folder per chapter, one wallet per sub-section. Et voila, a nicely maintained set of clippings.

 

However, I needed to dig deeper and wanted to give my readers the opportunity to get to my sources and the journal is only available to members of the IET. So I switched my research to the internet. Unfortunately, I forgot about the discipline I set up with paper and ended up having to work hard to sort it all out – as you know from I can’t work out what to call this post – getting under control, maintaining control, or developing a way of convincing myself (and hopefully others) it is all under control?.

 

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