Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is research: Understanding the Kaleidoscope

When we research around the body of evidence and focus on individual "data bits," it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. We need to research right in the kaleidoscope. Consider the reasoning in the table below. Family history should be fun, not fiction.

Updated: Elizabeth Shown Mills refers to Barbara Tuchman's kaleidoscope in the opening to Evidence Explained ... (2007). The "body of evidence" diagram above is my attempt to capture that kaleidoscope at a given point in time. I used the program yEd Graph Editor to create the upper graphic.


Randy Seaver said...


Where did you find the graphic? Or did you create it? I like it.

Is the basis of the graphic Tuchman's work in The Guns of August? Or your (or someone's) interpretation of it? Or something you made up.

Your table of "reasoning" screams out for common sense, doesn't it?

GeneJ said...

Hi Randy!

Thank you.

I drew the upper graphic in a free program, _yEd Graph Editor_. http://www.yworks.com/en/products_yed_about.html.

The basis of the graphic is Elizabeth Shown Mills' reference to Tuchman's work in the opening to _Evidence Explained ..._ (2007), 1.1, Analysis & Mindset. Mills writes (p.15), "When we gather under a lens all our bits and shards of evidence, we form a mental picture of a time, place, event, or person. Yet the next time we peer into our kaleidoscope, those same fragments may form a different picture."

On the very next page, "Research is much more than an accumulation of data. It is a process that requires continual comparison of new information against the old ..."

I'll add a comment to the blog about these graphics so folks know it's fine to use and reuse them.

Thanks again for the dialog. --GJ

Randy Seaver said...

Thanks, GJ. I read the EE section after I wrote the comment.

I love the graphic because it conveys the message that valuable information can come from any direction and it may be primary or secondary info... we just need to find asm uch as we can and then analyze it.

Ina said...
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