Messiness of research

One of the things I love about reading blogs by PhD candidates and more experienced researchers is that I get a glimpse into the messiness of what it is to be a researcher. Through blogs I begin to understand that ideas do not come forth perfectly formed, logical, thought provoking and publishable. In reality, research often goes through several manifestations, partly formed and tenuous, tangented, better formed but still gauzy.

I hbest-spiderwebsave been thinking about how to respond to Helen Kara’s #blimage challenge for a few weeks now. I thought it would be easy to link this image to something I want to say. After all, I research in the digital. The place of networks and world wide webs. What could be easier?

In fact, I have struggled, and probably most of all because the image shifted in my mind. I seem to remember a perfect spider web bejeweled with dew. A flawless, logical, aesthetically pleasing and publishable image.

I was so pleased that it was messy when I took another look. Look at all those lovely half webs and connected delicate entanglements. And you know what? This web is functional. It leaves nothing to chance. The insects are doomed.

That’s research. And the more attention we pay to it’s messiness, the more chance we have of catching a fly.

I could write more extensively referencing Latour but that means my blog post will start down the track of being perfectly formed, well researched and academically pleasing. Instead, I’m going to stop and pass the #blimage challenge along to Jenna Condie.



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