Research is Hard: And Other Thoughts about the Research Process

I’m going to be honest, I have a potential topic (Christian hip hop and trying to apply some of the lenses I talked about in my first paper), but I have not done sufficient research as of yet to justify it. Life gets very busy on the Hill, and thus time is very limited for the vast amount of things I have to do on a daily basis. I’m barely sleeping as a result, and I’m still behind in virtually everything.

But, I can talk about the process of research and writing because I have done it numerous times and will do it for this paper ASAP. As my title states, research is hard work. You have to find good quality academic sources (something that’s hard with my topic being such a personally felt one, not much academic research has been done on CCM music. I was lucky to find the excellent book I found that is the basis of my interpretation of my second paper), and sift out the good information from the bad. With our class as well, we are asked not to just spit out information and conclusions that other people have already come up with, but to synthesize and evaluate all the information to come up with a new and interesting thesis that no one has ever thought of before. While this is a very exciting prospect, it’s really tough to do. It requires you to pick and choose sometimes what scholars have said to make your own point, forgetting some things they said that actively contradict you (if you’re really doing a great paper, you have to answer those challenges within your argument). You have to spend a ton of time synthesizing very complex and dry articles into a compelling and persuasive paper. On top of all of this, you have to credit your sources and be super paranoid about plagiarism.

It’s a really tough but fun process. I wish that I had had time thus far this semester to really fully invest in this course and give it my all, because this is scholarly work that I actually finally care about. These next two months will be better, and I can’t wait to finish off this course with products that I’m really proud of individually and collectively as a class.

One thought on “Research is Hard: And Other Thoughts about the Research Process

  1. Hear hear, Tiller! Your description of research and writing is spot on (you’ll be great at explaining it to your own students some day). As you said, it’s all about finding multiple sources, not just one. And I’d encourage you to be creative about the sources you look for. While most scholars probably don’t focus on the theological side of hip hop (Christian or otherwise), there’s lots of scholarship on hip-hop, and you might find that some of those scholars discuss religious references or the appropriation of hip-hop by churches and believers. Doesn’t “Gangsta’s Paradise” quote Psalm 23? What have people said about that? Again, don’t be afraid to search off the beaten path – that’s where some of the most original arguments come from.

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