Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Liner Notes Taught Me About Doing Research

We have welcomed a new cohort of future planners here at Columbia, which means I better figure out what to teach them next week. (I kid!) One of my ongoing challenges with new students is teaching the process of research, in particular reviewing literature. With online databases collecting literature is easier than ever, but only once you have identified the journals and other sources to stick in your Reader feed, email alerts or whatever else you use. However, establishing the literature to keep an eye on is not easy. Often students are unsure how to do a literature review or identify what scholars they should read. I know that I used to share their confusion, but I also know that I always knew how to trace ideas and sources through the literature because I grew up reading liner notes. Prior to the internet and with magazines an occasional source, discovering new bands and music was something that I did by combing through the notes on the record sleeves. This turned out be an actual skill that greatly assisted my academic career. Who knew? Maybe this is justification to make my students listen to Junkyard. The first one to find the connection to Big Boys wins.

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