Research Myths

“Demystify Research Methods” was written by Joseph M. Moxley

Critique research myths that may be impairing your ability to locate, evaluate, and use information.

If you are like most people, you have some definite ideas about what research is. You may envision a pale figure in a white lab coat bent over a microscope or a beaker of bubbling liquid. Perhaps you imagine this isolated and humorless figure engaged in tedious procedures, carefully recorded on graph paper or reduced to inscrutable formulas scrawled in notebooks. Given a few moments, you might expand this vision of research to include a khaki-clad archaeologist digging for relics in the desert or a tweed-jacketed professor studying musty manuscripts in a dusty corner of the library.

These visions of imaginary researchers probably seem disconnected from your personal experience with research. Your first encounter with the term “research” may have been in the form of an English class assignment that required you to write a paper of a specified number of words in which you referenced a minimum number of sources using correct bibliographic citations. You may have spent a few uncomfortable hours in the library searching for material that had some bearing on the topic of your paper, then tried to collect bits and pieces from these sources into a more-or-less coherent whole without committing an obvious act of plagiarism. As you struggled with the apparently contradictory requirements to base your paper on the work of others but say something new, you probably wondered what this assignment had to do with “research.”