When the backpack of knowledge becomes too heavy to carry

The efforts of writing a paper, sometimes our brain can feel like this.

The efforts of writing a paper, sometimes our brain can feel like this.

By: Heather Hale

An army that is provided with too many weapons can be dangerous and faulty. This reminds me of a student who has too many resources at their fingertips.  This past week in class we were shown ways to research our writing, with the ultimate goal of providing a foundational knowledge about what we were to write about and to strengthen the arguments within our pieces. Some of the resources I have used and found helpful during the past semesters, but I also found myself jotting down names of new and interesting websites to check out.  I don’t like to generalize so I am going to write this through my own experiences, and hope that at least some of you can partially if not fully relate to it.

When I start off writing a paper the first hurdle is to figure out what I am going to write about without being too specific or too general.  There are the rare cases when it is bad to have the topic of discussion become too specific, because then I run the risk of not being able to find any research on it. However, the problems start to arise when I have the topic to be just right in my eyes, and the hours of research begin.

 The librarian made it sound so easy to organize the information that one finds, but I have tried these tactics and have never found it to be what anyone would define as easy. There are an overwhelming number of databases and other sources to look into, and they can become a hindrance more than an ally in my writing. It just seems that too much information is thrown at me and I become confused as to what needs to be included and what does not. I suppose there is a deal with too much statistical evidence in papers, but then again when not enough is put in people begin to question the validity of your arguments. It usually is not a problem for me to find information on a topic, it just becomes a problem incorporating all of the knowledge into a paper and not overwhelming the reader. One article can link to another and so on, which leads off into a tangent where it can be hard to get back on track. Then the rough drafts of the pieces become too sloppy as I make every effort to somehow connect all of the information that I have accumulated. Some may see this post as just a ranting of my frustrations with researching, which it may serve as,  but I also see it as a genuine problem that may cause some students to just throw their hands up in the air and papers can become simple minded when connecting everything becomes too much of a headache.


Even just trying to find links to connect to, I discovered other areas that I could cover within this but I’ll leave it as is and possibly pick this topic up again in another post.


One response to “When the backpack of knowledge becomes too heavy to carry

  1. Content: 4 Ha! Great image. Research can be overwhelming, yes, particularly now with all the ways of searching. That’s why it pays to know HOW to search. It will save you time and frustration. Of course, as you are learning, searches can take you on tangents and you can become lost in a subject far removed from your original query. But that’s the joy of learning. Always has been.
    Links: 2 Your only really good link here is the interview with Tara Calishain. That is great! The others are off the wall — particularly the Goldilocks one. Links — at least w/in the context of this blog — are not frivolous. They should have value for a reader. Using the words “just right” does not give you license to link to Goldilocks. If G has a link to journalism, then OK. The UB guy on info overload is borderline. Rather fun, so allowed, but your post should only include one such link at a time. The links to the UB Library and to Google are not valuable because I can get there myself.
    Grammar: 2 I’m going to hand edit the post for you and give it to you in class. I think it will be useful for you.

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