Monday, February 28, 2011

How not to do research

(1) Fix a deadline (say, 3pm).
(2) Wait until time gets short (say, 2pm)
(3) Make a plan to get to your goal (say, a chapel on a hill with a view)
(4) Get going according to your plan (say, on a bike)
(5) Keep going even though you are suspecting you may have missed your goal, just because continuing on the uphill road, even though it's work, require less thought than getting out your map and reconsidering your plan in more detail.
(6) Once you run out of time, you are eventually forced to stop and wonder whether you were just being stubborn. With the additional knowledge you gained along the way, it is immediately apparent that you went the wrong way a long time ago - and that, had you stopped much earlier, things would already have been clear and you would have saved yourself a lot of pointless effort. Moreover you now have a much better idea of what the right way is.
(7) By that time it is too late to go there in time, so you just give up altogether.

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