research economics

09Oct08

At the risk of boring myself and my readers, I’ve gotta talk about my research methods. I think it’s clear that my research methods as well as the kinds of questions I ask need to be rethought. But research questions aside, I’m still trying to find out which methods of “capture” work best. I’ve cracked the colonial correspondence volumes.  I just take as many pictures as I need. But the newspapers continue to be a problem.

There’s no doubt that the newspapers are a crucial aspect of my project and I designed the project to include newspaper sources. For whatever reason, I’ve always been taken by this kind of historical source and I love the kind of information that comes from them. Maybe this makes me more of a cultural historian, I don’t really know, but I think as long as I’m in this profession, I’ll be using newspaper data. That means that it’s even more imperative that I find a way to move through this material efficiently. After all, time is not unlimited.

Here’s my dilemma: I’m trying to get through several newspapers for this particular case study, probably for six month stretches each. Copies cost over $1.00 per page and, at the moment, I’m printing three or four pages from each daily newspaper. There’s a reduced rate if the article is short enough but still it all adds up. So I’ve been typing articles that seem “short enough,” except that if I’m typing enough articles, this gets to be extremely time-consuming. I spent all of this afternoon typing articles. This whole process has been done in a really convoluted way that isn’t worth discussing but it’s taking me ages to get through just one newspaper.

So I was wondering: how much is my time worth? I’m typing these short articles to save money. As it is, I will probably spend over $1000 on photocopies between now and next fall. But, in the process of saving money, I’m not saving time, which is another kind of expensive. So what should my priority be? Saving time or saving money? At the moment, it seems time should be my highest priority.

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2 Responses to “research economics”

  1. 1 whitheramp

    is there a way to cut back on the number of newspaper articles by day and topic? for instance, i’ve found in my work that there might be a number of similar stories about a given topic over the course of a few days, and really i only need to use one of them, since they mostly all cover the same info.

    i know it’s so much easier when you already know what you’re looking for, but also, don’t forget that you’ll be able to go back in the future! so you don’t have to do *everything* in this trip with every series of documents . . .

    i’ve been spending my days reading Christianity Today from the 1980s. so scary — i never thought this would be my life.

  2. 2 thefrogprincess

    I think the biggest problem is that my final case study is probably too big to be a case study. It easily could be a dissertation in and of itself. But I don’t want the project to be just about that last case study because what I find most interesting about the project is trying to bring these different case studies together (if this is too cryptic, we’ll chat about it later). So I’m constantly thinking about how to limit my research questions for this particular chapter in a way that the advisor will still accept.

    I think once I’m done with this particular newspaper and move to another one for the same time period, I’ll be able to skip over articles that cover the same information and focus on articles that provide a different perspective. And yes, I know I’ll be back both in the spring and generally in future. But the concern for this particular trip is that if I’m not careful, I’ll end up leaving without even one chapter’s worth of data. Maybe that’s a subject for another post.


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