Presentation on theme: "Critical Tools for Professional Research: Field Journals, Notebooks … and more Richard Cellarius, Ph.D. MAP Advisor Prescott College, 6 May 2006."— Presentation transcript:
Critical Tools for Professional Research: Field Journals, Notebooks … and more Richard Cellarius, Ph.D. MAP Advisor Prescott College, 6 May 2006
Cellarius 5/6/062 Abstract Accurate and regular record-keeping and doing a daily "gamesworth" of thinking and writing are critical tools for professional researchers. This talk will describe two specific tools that can increase anyone's scholarly productivity. 1.The Naturalist's Field Journal system practiced by Zoologist Joseph Grinnell and taught by Steven G. Herman, among others. 2.The notebook system used by Physicist Enrico Fermi and described as an important stimulus for creative thinking by John Platt. Further examples and discussion will focus on how both of these tools can be used in many other fields.
Cellarius 5/6/063 Overview Introduction – Goals Principles Basic Tools Specific Examples Discussion – What works for you Conclusion – Generalizations Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom References – Handout available
Cellarius 5/6/064 1.Introduction Assertion: Accurate and regular record- keeping and doing a daily "gamesworth" of thinking and writing are critical tools for professional researchers. This has three aspects: –Data collection: the notebook –Permanent record – processing the data and filling in details: the journal –Analysis – critical thinking going beyond the data to your own ideas: another type of journal or notebook (a gamesbook?)
Cellarius 5/6/065 Goals for the talk Outline some tools that have been developed and described by others for recording observations and analysis that you may find useful as described or with your own modifications. Discuss the possibilities – what works and doesn’t work for you. Note: these are tools to gather and prepare information before you start writing the paper or thesis. [See Richard’s Guide for the next steps.]
Cellarius 5/6/066 QUERY! Do you have a notebook with you? Are you taking notes? If so – Congratulations! It’s a good start! If not – Why are you here? The point: Write everything down ►Don't trust your memory to recall five days (or five minutes) later the neat idea you just heard – or had.
Cellarius 5/6/067 2. Principles (1) Write everything down Date every piece of paper; title and/or number every page. Everything should be considered part of your permanent record: –Notebooks, in whatever format chosen, must be your constant companion –Permanent, sewn bindings –Don’t rely on scraps of paper or paper napkins – Don't throw anything away!
Cellarius 5/6/068 2.Principles (2) Notes must be processed, i.e., expanded, while still relatively fresh into a complete, permanent record: the Journal – written in daily. –Notes are just that – jottings to jog the memory and record instant responses –Don’t leave anything out on the assumption an oblique reference will be understood by anyone ten years later Writing every day stimulates good writing Consider the audience – who are your readers? Pay attention to the writing – remember this is a public record: –Complete sentences –Correct grammar and spelling –Avoid jargon
Cellarius 5/6/069 Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, "On Jargon" (1916) [L]anguage is your reason, your logos. So long as you prefer abstract words, which express other men's summarized concepts of things, to concrete ones which lie as near as can be reached to things themselves and are the first-hand material for your thoughts, you will remain, at the best, writers at second-hand. If your language is Jargon*, your intellect, if not your whole character, will almost certainly correspond… * Jargon: obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocution and long words
Cellarius 5/6/0610 2. Principles (3) Don’t stop with processing the data: use them to stimulate your own thinking –Do a “gamesworth of reasoning”* on paper daily – or at least regularly One gamesworth of reasoning: “the amount of reasoning involved in a forty- move game of chess or a hard end- game problem, or a fairly hard (for you) crossword puzzle; that is, half an hour to an hour of problem-solving” (Platt, 1962).
Cellarius 5/6/0611 3. Basic Tools Writing: –Pen and ink, not pencil –Computer and printer –Paper- But not scratch paper! Recording –Field notebook –Lecture notebook –Library notebook –Laboratory notebook Filling in details: The Journal Creative/critical thinking: The Gamesbook etc. What about Blogs?
Cellarius 5/6/0612 4. Examples (1) Historical Captain James Cook, Journals… (1768-…) The Reverend Gilbert White, The Natural History of Selborne (1789) Lewis and Clark, Journals... (1802-1804) Charles Darwin, Voyage on the Beagle (1831- 1836/1839); The Origin of Species (1859) Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1864) John Muir, Thousand Mile Walk… (1867- 68/1916); My First Summer in the Sierra (1869/1911) John Steinbeck & E.F. Rickets, Sea of Cortez (1940/1941) …
Cellarius 5/6/0613 4. Examples (2) Naturalist’s Field Journal Steven G. Herman (1980): The Naturalist’s Field Journal: A Manual of Instruction Based on a System Established by Joseph Grinnell. Joseph Grinnell, First director, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, 1908-1939.
Cellarius 5/6/0614 4. Examples (2) Naturalist’s Field Journal Joseph Grinnell, Ph.D., Stanford, 1913 –First field notes, 1/1/1894; first available record, 13 April 1908; last entry 25 May 1939, p. 3005, 5 days before his death. –Published over 500 scientific papers and books during his lifetime –“He stood for patient, scrupulous recording of facts seen in nature—for the development of honesty and thoroughness in observational technique and interpretation at a period when the vogue of experimentation was in its most rapid ascendancy…” Alden Miller (1943) on Grinnell
Cellarius 5/6/0615 4. Examples (2) Naturalist’s Field Journal “Natural history is the observation and description of organisms and their behavior in their natural habitats … with the principal values directed toward the organisms as opposed to the human concepts involved. If the study involves application to a human concept, e.g., ecology, altruism, then it is not natural history but field biology." (Sluss, 1980)
Cellarius 5/6/0616 4. Examples (2) Naturalist’s Field Journal “The naturalist’s field journal is to natural history what the telescope was to astronomy. The journal magnifies the memory – as the telescope magnifies the heavens.” (Sinclair, 1981)
Cellarius 5/6/0617 Naturalist’s Field Journal— Tools The Technical Pen; Inks; Paper; The Binder; A Straight-edge; The Field Notebook
Cellarius 5/6/0622 4. Examples (2) Naturalist’s Field Journal Field notebook Journal: –Date; Locality and Route; Weather; Habitats and Vegetation; General Commentary; Species Lists; Drawings and maps. Species accounts: –Date and Locality; The Summary Species Account; Species Accounts for Other Animals; Plant Species Accounts (by A.M. Weidemann); Data From Other observers. Catalog
Cellarius 5/6/0623 Grinnell’s Summary “ The field collector is supplied with a separate-leaf notebook. He writes his records on the day of observation with carbon ink, on one side of the paper only. The floral surroundings are recorded, especially with respect to their bearing on the animal secured. The behavior of the animal is described and everything else which is thought by the collector to be of use in the study of the species is put on record at the time the observations are made in the field. The camera is as important a part of his outfit as the trap or gun. These field notes and photographs are filed so as to be as readily accessible to the student in the museum as are the specimens themselves. ” Joseph Grinnell (1910)
Cellarius 5/6/0624 4. Examples (3) The laboratory notebook E. Bright Wilson. 1952: An Introduction to Scientific Research. Section 6.2. Notebooks and Records [“Indoor Science”]
Cellarius 5/6/0625 4. Examples (3) The laboratory notebook Permanently and strongly bound Data should be entered directly into the notebook at the time of observation. –For routine, repeated measurements a special blank is often useful if a good system is established for collecting and binding the separate sheets. –A rubber stamp may be used to provide headings for routine entries. Data should be recorded in ink, preferably a permanent brand. Each entry should be dated. The material should not be crowded on the pages
Cellarius 5/6/0626 4. Examples (3) The laboratory notebook A statement of the purpose of each experiment and a summary of the conclusions reached make the notebook vastly more useful. Data should always be entered in their most primary form, not after recalculation or transformation. Sketches, drawings, and diagrams are essential. Bad or unpromising experiments, even those deemed failures, should be fully recorded. They … should not be thrown away, because often something can be salvaged, even if it is only a knowledge of what not to do.
Cellarius 5/6/0627 4. Examples (4) Social Scientist’s Notebook Basic format for observations of public meetings and hearings: Divide page 1/3 left – 2/3 right (blank books are available) Log-in – Upper right corner Date, location, group or person presenting Right 2/3: Notes on content of meeting => accurate reporting Left 1/3: Personal responses: Setting – space map; where is the observer? Participants – including description of audience and participation Process – parliamentary style, formal vs. informal, activity * Information on meeting: Date, location, group or person Log-in Data* 1/3 of page2/3 of page Personal observations of meeting, participants, and process. Accurate notes on meeting content.
Cellarius 5/6/0628 4. Examples (5) Journal of Exploration Sinclair (1981): A modification of the Grinnell- Herman system combined with Ira Progroff’s Intensive Journal for multiple endeavors. –Intensive Journal: “A record of as well as from memory[:] A record of his memory, made with uncommon attention to veracity, to discover what is in the world as opposed to what one imagines is in the world.” This journal is systematic in form, helps the writer use his memory, and “can be kept regularly without the compulsion of genius.” “The purpose is to make images and facts available for later writing of other kinds.” Format: Notebook, pen, ink, paper, format, etc. based on Herman’s Grinnell system.
Cellarius 5/6/0629 4. Examples (5) Journal of Exploration Journal – A record that is “true, detailed, fair, and literate.” – Not a diary. –Audience: Somewhere between grandchildren and a Senate committee or a reader in another galaxy. –Every entry has the date, place, day, setting – description of place, time, weather – purpose or occasion, image, other activities. Subjects – “Matters, matter, views, comments, reflections, responses, sentiments.” Record of responses to experiences recorded in the journal. –Still the same audience –Page heading describes the subject: “Work,” “Robert Sluss” Memories, Dialogues, and Letters – Record a deep memory, have a dialogue with someone not present (dead or distant), write a letter to someone not a normal correspondent as in Saul Bellow’s Herzog.
Cellarius 5/6/0630 4. Examples (5) Journal of Exploration Journal – A record that is “true, detailed, fair, and literate.” – Not a diary. –Audience: Somewhere between grandchildren and a Senate committee or a reader in another galaxy. –Every entry has the date, place, day, setting – description of place, time, weather – purpose or occasion, image, other activities. Subjects – “Matters, matter, views, comments, reflections, responses, sentiments.” Record of responses to experiences recorded in the journal. –Still the same audience –Page heading describes the subject: “Work,” “Robert Sluss” Memories, Dialogues, and Letters – Record a deep memory, have a dialogue with someone not present (dead or distant), write a letter to someone not a normal correspondent as in Saul Bellow’s Herzog. I Wonder if this might BE Like a BLOG?
Cellarius 5/6/0631 4. Examples (6) The Gamesbook John Rader Platt. 1962. The Excitement of Science, Ch. 7, The Art of Creative Thinking & Ch. 8, The Motivation of Creation. One gamesworth of reasoning: “the amount of reasoning involved in a forty-move game of chess or a hard end-game problem, or a fairly hard (for you) crossword puzzle; that is, half an hour to an hour of problem-solving”
Cellarius 5/6/0632 4. Examples (6) The Gamesbook Fermi would work all day at the blackboard on whatever problem he had chosen... Every particularly pregnant result went into an indexed notebook. Other notebooks held data, and one was a "Memory" of useful numbers and equations…
Cellarius 5/6/0633 4. Examples (6) The Gamesbook Putting the work into permanent bound notebooks is an essential element of this method... It emphasizes ‘the necessity of thinking formally’ instead of merely feeling or sliding into a conclusion. The notebook is a continual reminder of this necessity… Also the most brilliant cocktail idea or the work on a piece of scratch paper is lost and scattered without a permanent record, and does not build into anything.
Cellarius 5/6/0634 4. Examples (6) The Gamesbook The notebook will force your reasoning to stay at the highest creative level you are capable of, because the critic you face in the book at every stage is yourself. It permits separation of creation and criticism. It permits "sleeping on a problem," so that the results of the unconscious thinking …can be added systematically to the formal thinking that has gone before.
Cellarius 5/6/0635 4. Examples (6) The Gamesbook The notebook focuses attention on one problem at a time and gives it the profit of consecutive reasoning.. To focus attention closely requires a certain preparation so as to have freedom from interruption... A man who wants to be creative will see that he has his private hour for it, and his time with the notebook will be the first duty - and pleasure - of every day, far more important than the most urgent appointments or letters… the rewards from the pleasure and success of formal thinking can then make the rest come easily.
Cellarius 5/6/0636 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Multiple approaches –Variety of formats –Struggles with pens Notebooks as the primary record Notebooks and journals as a record of learning and creating
Cellarius 5/6/0638 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Use it as a record of your intellectual activities--notes on books you've read, lectures you've heard (take it with you to lectures; you can always make notes on other problems if the lecturer is boring or you can try to work through the fallacies in his logic to rebut him with at the end), famous quotations you heard or created are all appropriate. Jot down questions or ideas that you want to work on further. And then go back and work on them
Cellarius 5/6/0639 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Set some time aside each day to do your own creative thinking in your notebook. Don't wait until the end of the day when you are run down, but use your mind's "prime time" for this work whenever possible. This is the time to go back and work on the questions or ideas you jotted down earlier.
Cellarius 5/6/0640 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Don't hesitate to write something down if you think it is important. It is your book, and you are the only person who will go back later and say, "That was a great idea" or "How could I ever have been so stupid?" (Saving the bad remarks is the price we must pay for saving the good ones.)
Cellarius 5/6/0641 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations While you may use your notebook as a detailed record of what you have accomplished, for evaluating your intellectual progress and for goading yourself to do more and better work, do not make it into a diary in which you record your latest sexual successes or discuss your personal problems with yourself, your roommate, etc. Use it for creation--not confession. Don’t do it on the web—it’s not a blog.
Cellarius 5/6/0642 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Notebooks and journals as a record of learning –An extension of the notebook idea to notebook and journal. The notebook is the primary record of what you see, hear, read, and think. The journal is a narrative account of your learning, based primarily on your notebook. Your notebook should be permanently bound and of a size and weight that you can easily carry around with you everywhere you go! All your primary notes should go into your notebook, not onto to separate sheets of paper to be copied later.
Cellarius 5/6/0643 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Your journal will be the narrative account of your educational "journey" and could become your personal textbook. It is a public document, in contrast to the notebook. It should be set up and maintained in a loose-leaf binder to allow for insertion of pages into different sections.
Cellarius 5/6/0644 4. Examples (7) Cellarius Variations Regular journal entries should move beyond description and reports into development of a more in-depth understanding through analysis (the hows and whys), interpretation (the "so- whats": broader implications), and connection (the relationships between the topic under discussion and other things you have seen, read, or done).
Cellarius 5/6/0645 Apologia Mea culpa – I have not discussed noteless, sensuous-based observations Another concept: Sensuous- intellectual complementarity …
Cellarius 5/6/0646 5. Discussion – What works for you? Examples: Describe tools and approaches that you have used Reactions: What ideas about your data gathering and analysis have you picked up from the description of these various tools?
Cellarius 5/6/0647 6. Conclusion: Some Generalizations Components of Critical Thought : –Describe = what? –Analyze = why? –Interpret = so what? –Conclude = Summary, prediction Describe context of any observations: date, time circumstance, participants The ‘first-step’ notebook should have room for personal responses as well as recording events and what others say. Use of the computer may result in a different format. –Archivists still claim that printed pages are more lasting than digital media, even CD-ROM disks –Print and bind your work if you do use the computer.
Cellarius 5/6/0648 6. Conclusion: Some Generalizations Make it work for you –“The whole purpose of all these recording systems is to preserve values. They should be carefully thought out to fit the conditions of each laboratory and should be adequate but not over elaborate. If too much is demanded of human nature, the system will break down.” (Wilson, 1952, p. 134)
Cellarius 5/6/0649 Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom Relax, Relate, Explore, Expand, Expound Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. (Earl of Chesterfield, 1746) Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (Attributed to Kenneth Boulding, ca. 1968) No record kept in the head can be as accurate or precise as one in writing. (Herman) Sinclair’s principles (selected) –The main purpose for writing is to seek the truth. Bad writing is bad mainly because it is in some way false. –Correct prose either has the form of a story or it has the form of an argument. –Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are essential. I recommend good handbooks
Cellarius 5/6/0650 Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom “To do science is to search for repeated patterns, not simply to accumulate facts, … the science of geographical ecology is to search for patterns of plant and animal life... The person best equipped to do this is the naturalist who loves to note changes in bird life up a mountainside, or changes in plant life from mainland to island, or changes in butterflies from temperate to tropics... Doing science is not … a barrier to feeling or … a dehumanizing influence… It does not take the beauty from nature. The only rules of scientific method are honest observations and accurate logic... No one should feel that honesty and accuracy guided by imagination have any power to take away nature's beauty.” Robert MacArthur, Geographical Ecology, 1972. Quoted in Herman, 1980
Cellarius 5/6/0651 Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom “Now you know these things, but very likely no one else does; and you know them at the time, but you will not recollect a tithe of them in a few weeks or months, to say nothing of years. Don't trust your memory; it will trip you up; what is clear now will grow obscure; what is found will be lost. Write down everything while it is fresh in your mind; write it out in full--time so spent will be time saved in the end, when you offer your researches to the discriminating public. Don't be satisfied with a dry-as-dust item; clothe a skeleton fact, and breathe life into it with thoughts that glow; let the paper smell of the woods. There's a pulse in a new fact; catch the rhythm before it dies.) Keep off the quicksands of mere memorandum – that means something "to be remembered," which is just what you cannot do. …
Cellarius 5/6/0652 Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom … Shun abbreviations; such keys rust with disuse, and may fail in aftertimes to unlock the secret that should have been laid bare in the beginning. Use no signs intelligible only to yourself; your notebooks may come to be over-hauled by others whom you would not wish to disappoint. Be sparing of sentiment, a delicate thing, easily degraded to drivel; crude enthusiasm always hacks instead of hewing. Beware of literary infelicities; "the written word remains," … after you have passed away; put nothing down for your friend's blush, or your enemy's sneer; write as if a stranger were looking over your shoulder. Elliot Coues, Field Ornithology, 1874. Quoted in Herman, 1980
Cellarius 5/6/0653 Aphorisms and other bits of wisdom No journal this day, no sleep this night or no Grinnell tonight, no granola tomorrow! (Herman) Count that day lost whose low descending sun sees from thy mind no gamesworth of reasoning done. (Platt) Don't let anybody tell you it will be easy.
Cellarius 5/6/0654 Remember these Rules! AIM HIGH THINK BIG
Cellarius 5/6/0655 Sources and Citations Cellarius, Richard. 2000. Richard’s Guide: On Writing, Writing Research Reports, on Speaking. http://myweb.cableone.net/rcellarius/Rs_Guide/ Herman, Steven G. 1980. The Naturalist's Field Journal: A Manual of Instruction Based on a System Established by Joseph Grinnell. Olympia, The Evergreen State College. Platt, John Rader. 1962. The Excitement of Science, Ch. 7, The Art of Creative Thinking & Ch. 8 The Motivation of Creation. Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin – The Riverside Press. pp. 109-153. Sinclair, Pete. 1981. Journal of Exploration: An Approach to Teaching Writing. [N.D.—Olympia, The Evergreen State College] Wilson, E. Bright. 1952. An Introduction to Scientific Research. New York: McGraw Hill. Handout is available at the end of the talk.