Happy Holidays from Research Salad!

From all of us here at Research Salad, we wish you and your family all the best this holiday season.  From Kwanzaa to Chanukah to Christmas to Winter Solstice: no matter what you are celebrating, we hope that it is joyous.  Thank you for reading our blog and we hope to keep posting interesting things for you to read in 2012.  Here’s to a prosperous and happy new year to you all!


Tech tools and tryability

Image courtesy of Black & Decker

Recently, I blogged about analyzing qualitative interview data.  Using a constant comparative method, themes emerged upon multiple readings of the data.  Done by hand, the process was laborious, time-consuming, and highly instructive.  In other words, I learned a lot.  However, as in other areas of life (electric screw drivers, anyone?) having the right tool for the job can save an enormous amount of time, not to mention muscle power.  Time and energy that might be spent in better ways, say in writing up the analysis or catching up on your professional reading, or even polishing off the last of your online Christmas shopping.  So when I received over 50 pages of newly transcribed interview data, I decided it might be time to investigate tech tools to do the job more efficiently, even more precisely.

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Tackling the Funding Question

I love the quote that is underneath the photo to the left.  And I loved it when my advisor told me that I would “miss 100% of the buses I didn’t try to catch.”  This seems like an apt metaphor for the funding game and the confidence hump that we must all get over in order to recognize our work is “worth it”.  I recently submitted a small, within-university grant for a pilot project I want to test.  However, when it came time to put the proposal together, my enthusiasm started to wane   What if the proposal isn ‘t what they are looking for?  How likely was it really that I would get the grant?  I felt myself talking my way out of applying bit by bit.

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Living in a digital world, part 4 — tech product reviews

two cameras face off

Image cc license from Flickr user: Tim Caynes (http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5047/5228886276_42ed9fe1b5_b.jpg)

One afternoon, a staff member came into the library with an unusual request.  For her upcoming holiday, instead of escaping to a beach or the mountains, she had decided to try something a little different.  She would be traveling to South Africa and donate her time to a project tagging penguins on a wildlife reserve.  She had already borrowed books on penguins and made an appointment to visit a local zoo and speak with those specializing in animal care.  Now, all she needed was a camera.

Her previous camera was not up to the trip and she was looking for something a little more advanced, with a different feature set.  She did not want to know what camera I would recommend for her, but rather where she should look to find information to help her make her decision. Where could she find reviews of various products, created by experts and everyday people, to enable her to make an informed choice?

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Parrhesia: Academic bold speak

WORD POWER  Words are one of a teacher’s most powerful tools.  Like tools, they can be wielded to construct, disassemble, or repair.  Israeli born educator and psychologist, Haim Ginott’s most famous quote on the relationship between teachers and students included the lines,

“It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.”

Ginott’s work centered mostly on younger children and teenagers.  His book Between Parent and Child, originally published in 1965, drew on his work with troubled adolescents in Jacksonville, Florida, and emphasized the need to combine compassion with boundary setting.  Of course, compassion and her sister, kindness, serve a teacher well at any stage of a student’s development.   Parrhesia, or bold speaking, may serve a teacher better when a student is a little older or when the relationship is already strong enough to withstand some shaking.

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NCSS: Finding Your Community at Conferences

Compass at the Washington Convention Center, Photo by SES

I just returned from the Annual Meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies in Washington, DC.  It is the ultimate meeting place for those with an interest in social studies, history, sociology, and education. And, of course, with the backdrop of Washington, DC, it could not have been a more perfect time to be discussing civics, politics, and service.  It also is a place that allows the intense social studies nerd to flourish and feel at home.  Two years ago, I saw someone walking around dressed like Mary Todd Lincoln and got passed on an escalator last year by a Minuteman.  The point here is that people are passionate about social studies.  Enthusiasm, passion, nerditude – these are all things that you can feel free to exercise in this setting.

I think that the following exchange sums it up best:

  • Me [holding a snappy map from the Rand McNally table]: Hi there.
  • Woman: OH MY GOD WHERE DID YOU GET THAT MAP!?  It’s beautiful!  You can write on it with a whiteboard marker!
  • Me: You should go over to the Rand McNally table.  They are doing a spin-and-win and I got this map.
  • Woman: I LOVE SOCIAL STUDIES!  AHHHH!  [runs away in the direction of the spin-and-win] Read the rest of this entry »

Out-thinking Writer’s Block

“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” — John Rogers, Kung Fu Monkey, 06-25-11

Broken pencil and scrapped paper

Image cc license from Flickr user colemama: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2796/4370709585_ecdcd3eef6_b.jpg

Everyone gets writer’s block — although the phrase’s Wikipedia entry suggests that it’s a condition primarily associated with writing as a profession, writer’s block can afflict anyone.  Trying to write a message in that birthday or holiday card, but unable to find the right words?  Spent so much time researching for your dissertation that you’re unable to figure out where to begin?  College students, journalists, CEOs, and writers of jingles, letters, and blog posts, writer’s block is a dangerous and frustrating malady that can strike any person, at any time.

To help combat this condition for which modern medicine has not yet found a cure, we have compiled a list of selected resources to fight and demonstrate that, while writer’s block might last a little or a long time, it does not have to be a permanent condition.

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