by Christine Liu-Perkins
My favorite part of the writing process is doing research. I collect as much as I can. The upside of extensive research is having a wealth of information to draw on and learn from. But the downside is getting overwhelmed trying to process all that material.
How can one absorb and understand so much information? How do you get it off the page (or screen) and into your mind?
Studies shows that students learn best when they actively engage with material. Likewise for writers, the more we ponder, wrestle with, and ruminate over our research, the more we comprehend. And the better we understand a subject, the more deeply and creatively we can write about it.
How can we get research off the page and into our minds? "Get control over your topic by writing about it along the way," suggests one of my favorite books on academic research and writing (Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 66). Reflecting on smaller chunks of research as you gather it will help you avoid being overwhelmed by mountains of information later on.
Here are some ways to ponder, wrestle, and ruminate over your research:
Ponder, wrestle, and ruminate over your research along the way. You'll be well prepared when it's time to write that first draft!
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