What is it like to be a researcher you might ask? I thought I knew having spent the best part of 4 years of my life as a PhD student. However, I was last a researcher in the web 1.0 world or possibly even the web 0.5 world having finished my PhD in 1999. I wrote a list of internet resources separate to my bibliography, such was the novelty of using web sites as academic resources in those days! How things have changed and my new incarnation as a researcher is quite different. For one, other than for the first week, I feel far less isolated – having a great research partner in the form of Emma Coonan or the Mongoose Librarian certainly helps. But also having the support of my virtual colleagues, via e-mail, my blog, Twitter, text message has made the whole experience a lot less lonely for me.
I’m also probably spending far less time searching for information – I guess I know a lot of the material in the field so that helps but I’ve barely visited a library as I can access almost all I need from my desktop (thanks to the immense electronic resource collections of both Cambridge and LSE). And so far I am doing less writing, but that is about to change. We’ve concentrated on a data collection process using interviews, which has been hugely wealthy, but I think we’re almost at the point where we need to stop talking and start writing! Knowing when you have enough information is a key part of being an information literate researcher!
I don’t think you can ever do enough reading, but I am finding I’ve almost as much spent time listening to podcasts, or videos in place of serious reading. One book comes with me every day to CARET and then home again and osmosis from the rucksack to my brain is still not happening. Speaking of videos there is a great talk from Laurence Lessig on the Arcadia Blog this week. There was also a talk at LSE last week from Sheryl Sandberg, COO from Facebook which is on YouTube. However, I guess what I am concluding is that reading, writing and communication are all key research skills and having the luxury to do this is turning out to be a lot more fun than in the web 0.5 world!