Sep 182021

There are a fair number of memes out there at the moment throwing rocks at people who “do their own research” (meaning reading a few articles online).

The point they are trying to make is not unreasonable – casual reading up on a subject doesn’t trump the results of professional researchers results.

On the other hand, reading the right sources is research; not as valuable as academic research with all that extra “stuff”, but research nevertheless. The OED definition includes :-

To engage in research upon (a subject); to investigate or study closely.

Doesn’t say a whole lot about publishing papers in a peer-reviewed journal, the scientific method, or all that other tedious stuff that separates the professional academic researcher from the amateur.

There is of course a whole other post on how to do research properly in terms of background reading :-

  1. Wikipedia may be a good start but it’s just that – a start.
  2. You need to assess the trustworthiness of a source; if nobody trusts the source you’re reading it probably means the source can’t be trusted.
  3. You’re looking for accepted wisdom; you need to do a lot more work to start looking at the kooky stuff.
Unnatural Nature
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