Things that are hard, but good: learning to research

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I’ve been intending to blog about a project I’ve been working on for a while (I’m sure that sentiment sounds familiar) and finally find myself with a few free minutes on a Friday afternoon (and, to be honest, the knowledge that I should probably write about this while it’s happening, rather than later…) to sit and write.

For the past few months, two of my friends/cohorts and I have been working on a research project about digital humanities pedagogy, and it has been … an experience. I’ve written research papers before, when research meant that I had to look up sources and synthesize them, address or negate points that the authors made and integrate them into my own arguments. And while it seems weird to say that I enjoy such things (although I suppose in some respects I must), as someone who has spent most of her life reading and writing, I feel, shall we say, exceptionally competent at writing papers.

We made a word cloud of our results, because word clouds are DH. ^_~
We made a word cloud of our results, because word clouds are DH. ^_~

This kind of research, though, is different, and has brought up all sorts of issues that I feel less than competent at dealing with – which to be frank, is a little overwhelming and at times disheartening (I was definitely part of the special snowflake generation). At the same time, though, it’s a challenge, and intriguing, and gives me the same “As’saa!”* feeling that I get from remembering how to construct a sentence in Japanese or figuring out a particularly tricky piece of knitting. And I’m super excited about all the things we’ve learned from doing this research – not just the technical parts of learning how to construct surveys and deal with Institutional Review Boards, but also the insights we’ve been able to gain about digital humanities as a whole and the connections we’ve made with the people we’ve interviewed.

In two weeks (eek!! so close!), we’ll be presenting the results of our research at the College English Association conference in Indianapolis. After that, we’ll be gearing up for the second part of our project, which we’ll be talking about at HASTAC 2015 in May. Unfortunately, I have a family obligation and will miss HASTAC, but I would love to see meet you if you’re going to be at CEA! Feel free to drop me a line. ^_^

If you’d like to learn more about our research, you can email us at and we will add you to our list of people who want to stay informed about the project.

We can also always use more data! If you’ve taken a digital humanities class at the undergraduate or graduate level, take our survey! Or feel free to forward it to anyone you like.

And now, back to my survey coding. ^_~

*The Korean version of “Yes!” or “Got it!” I would say, “Eureka!” but does anyone even use that anymore?