Hey, everybody. So,
嗨 大家好 是这样的
in the months since I’ve put up the Dionysus video,
I’ve gotten a few emails from people asking
about my sources and my process and all that jazz,
and around the third time I had to answer one
of those emails, I had a sudden epiphany:
“Maybe this process isn’t as intuitive as I thought…”
So today I’m gon na share some sweet wisdom
with all of you who’ve ever wondered
“HOW THE HECK TO DO I DO RESEARCH?”
Now, I’m gonna start at the very beginning of the process
and it’s probably not what you’re expecting to hear
This may be a bit shocking,
and I’d advise elderly members of the audience
to take a seat first,
maybe check the pressure before I begin to it
We good? Everyone’s sitting comfortably? Okay.
The absolute first step to any research project is…
I learned this in university, from a real professor and everything
We all learned years ago that you’re never supposed to cite Wikipedia,
and this is completely true.
*Nobody* trusts it as a source. It would be like citing something you read off the side of a subway car
But what Wikipedia *is* good at is directing you to ACTUAL sources.
Right at the bottom, in that sweet little references section,
is a goldmine of all kinds of sources
And even better, the content of the article tells you what kind of information
you can expect to find in those sources,
and sometimes even what pages they’re on.
you can get books, websites, translated primary sources,
你能获取书籍 网址 译本
anything and everything from the reference section
So as you go through the relevant Wikipedia pages,
any information that catches your eye will have a nice little citation on it.
So grab that sucker and add it to the list!
And when I say pages plural I mean it!
Pretty much everything has its own dedicated Wikipedia page,
(except for us)
but that single page isn’t gon na be enough to get the full picture.
You want to find every page that relates to the subject matter
important places, related people or groups, relevant time periods,
重要地点 相关人员或组织 相关时间段
stuff like that.
Broadly you want to get as much related stuff
as you can since that’ll let you contextualise the subject;
learning about it in isolation only gives you a fragment of the whole picture.
Get greedy with it!
you want to know everything about this subject,
and that means you don’t need to skimp on the sources you pull together.
So once you’ve combed through every tangential related Wikipedia page
on your chosen subject,
noted down a list
of promising sources and what you expect to find in them,
that’s when you enter stage two: HUNTING DOWN SOME SWEET SOURCES!
So now you’ve got a list
of sources you think will lead to more information,
and the odds are good,
most of them are gon na be books.
So you can either check your local library catalog and see
if they have the sources you need,
or you can give the titles a google and see
if you can find them online. Legally,
of course. Sometimes Google Books has a preview available;
and sometimes, it even contains the pages you need.
But mostly you’re gonna be looking for e-books or library copies.
Now this advice all applies pretty much universally:
No matter what you’re trying to research,
the process of finding sources is usually going to boil down to:
find a library or google it and get really lucky.
But let’s say, for the sake of specificity,
you’re researching something… historical.
Like a.. mythological figure, for example.
In cases like this, you’re gonna need to start dealing with
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES
Now broadly, if you’re studying a historical thing,
the primary sources are gon na be stuff that was written directly about that thing,
from people who are point blank on the thing,
or otherwise had first-hand experience with its thing-ness.
The secondary sources are the stuff written about the primary sources,
and thus they’re at least one degree of separation away from the original thing.
And the number one rule
in any kind of research is you always want to find the primary sources first.
If they still exist, they don’t always.
If you’re trying to learn about something,
and you have the option
of reading a bunch of first-person accounts of that thing
or a book somebody wrote about those first-person accounts of that thing.
Choose the first-person accounts,
It’ll take longer to get through but you’ll get a much more accurate perspective.
No text is free from bias,
but the farther away the writer was from the subject they’re writing about,
the more bias will be present in their interpretation.
It’s like in the giant n-dimensional game of telephone that is history:
The actual thing you’re trying to research is the starting person.
And the primary sources are all the people right next to the starting thing
who *probably* heard it pretty clearly.
But all the secondary sources are from farther down the line,
where you’re starting to get garbled interpretations of interpretations,
and maybe somebody along the way started actively messing with the other players
by not actually repeating what they heard in the first place.
And…it’s a mess.
Basically, if you want the clearest image possible of the thing,
you find the primary sources.
Now again, purely hypothetically let’s say you’re researching a…
Greek god or something,
and you want to know what they were like back in the day.
your primary sources are going to be the myths about that God
or the hymns recorded in their worship.
And even then, it’s important to note that
these sources were most likely translated from the original Ancient Greek to English,
and that translation adds a layer of bias as well.
Really, for the sake of your own sanity
you’ve got to accept that
you’ll never be able to find the clear unvarnished truth of the thing,
but the closer you get, the clearer the image will be.
But while primary sources will give you a good look at the thing in question.
You actually *do* need secondary sources.
Specifically, you need secondary sources that help you contextualize the primary sources.
To understand the possible biases and factors present in the primary sources,
you want to know who wrote them and when and what exactly was happening at the time.
Primary sources let you examine the thing,
secondary sources let you examine the primary sources.
And it’s very important to do both when you’re doing research.
You can’t just take these sources at face value,
(TRUST NO ONE)
and you got ta be aware that
the writers all had their personal take on the subject.
And the more you know about that take,
the more you’ll be able to extrapolate
what parts of the original thing they might have been minimizing or putting the spotlight on.
It’ll help you get a clearer picture of the original.
It’s also important not to shy away from
credible sources of information that don’t seem to fit with what you already know about the subject
If you’re only looking for stuff that agrees with you,
you’re not actually doing research;
you’re just looking to confirm what you already think.
But this is another reason
why it’s very important to look at the context for your sources,
to judge whether or not they’re actually credible.
if your conflicting information is coming from…
I don’t know, someone’s unsourced Tumblr post,
you might not want to assign it as much literary weight
as the complete works of Homer.
Context for your sources is seriously everything, I can’t stress that enough.
So you find the myths and the hymns,
and then you find other versions of the same myths and hymns,
and then you find some secondary sources
talking about the authors of those myths and hymns,
and you’ve got so much information about this mythical figure
and the people who wrote about them, and when all this happened
and you don’t know what to do with it.
This brings me to the next step:
BURY YOURSELF IN NOTES
Take notes on everything.
No, Really, this isn’t like class notes,
不 实际上 这可不像课堂笔记
where you write stuff down so you can pass the test on the later
This is a whole different ballgame.
If you’re researching a historical or mythical figure, write down EVERYTHING they did.
If you’ve got accounts from different time periods,
write down when they’re from and who put them down.
Anything interesting about the writers lives? Write that down too.
If your general approach to note-taking is the same as mine,
“Eh I’ll remember this I don’t need to write it down”
“嗯 我会记住这些的 没有必要写下来”
that doesn’t apply here.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’ll remember it,
you want to write it down anyway,
because this isn’t about memorizing,
it’s about putting all your information in one place
so you can deal with it all at once later.
In your notes,
you want to distill down everything you could possibly use from the original sources.
You want to make it so you never have to return to the original text,
because everything you could possibly be looking for is right there.
If you’re writing a paper or something else that needs direct attribution,
maybe note down some useful quotes with page numbers too,
just to make your life easier down the line.
This will leave you with a giant pile
of information loosely connected the actual subject at hand.
And if you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do with this pile…
BREAK OUT THE THUMBTACKS AND STRINGS
Who’s ready to connect some dots?
Now that you have a huge heap of everything you know about this person, place or thing,
由于你已经收集了一大堆信息 并了解有关人物 地点和事件的所有一切
you get to start on the fun part: filling in the gaps.
You have to take the mess of information you’ve acquired,
organize them in categories
lay it all out and start bringing the big picture together.
This is where you get to be creative.
You have all these static points of data,
you just need to find a…
best-fitting curve that connects all the dots into one coherent narrative.
Basically, a thesis that all the evidence you’ve collected supports.
It’s pure creative puzzle solving and it’s gonna be great.
By the way, if there was any justice in the world
this is what high school English teachers would tell you when they assign essays.
But since they almost always make you figure out the thesis statement first,
they basically flip the whole process upside down
by making you figure out the big picture rundown before you get any actual evidence.
It’s dumb. Don’t do that.
So once you’ve constructed your thesis out of thumbtacks and yarn
you just gotta polish it up to be presentable.
That’s a whole other video Blue already did.
So if you’re curious, go ahead and check that out.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some conspiracies to unearth.
Hey, everybody. So,