I’ve made a great deal of progress with my citations project in the past few months. It seemed as though I’d waited aeons to get approval from the IRB. After obtaining approval at the end of December, Professor di Gennaro and I decided to wait until the beginning of this semester to distribute our surveys. As far as data collection goes, I pulled together every resource I had and even scoped out people individually to take the survey. I was hungry for data. I got excited when we were first approaching the one hundred response mark—I began to feel like an actual researcher. Currently there are 135 responses and I I haven’t looked at any responses and I’ve refrained from doing so before because I don’t want to mess anything up. I’m under the impression (albeit unrealistically) that with one wrong click everything will disappear.
A few weeks ago, I made a Google Slides doc with information including our methods for the study, what other authors were saying, and where any gaps in the research may occur. Where the researchers leave off is where I take over and insert my own motivations. I initially struggled to make the slides and do the literature summary because I’ve read so many texts and they all have the tendency to sit as a jumble in my mind, similar in nature to a ball of rubber bands. Although it seemed everyone was saying the same things, I was able to draw connections a bit more easily because there was cohesion. Professor di Gennaro recommended that I make a chart with all the main researchers’ points so I can visually digest the information. This helped A LOT. As a senior I’m getting to the point in the semester where it’s hard to balance so much, so any way to make my research feel less strenuous is ideal. This project has taught me time management and patience are key.
So far, I have continued reading more articles I hope will prove to be helpful for summarizing my overall research in the spring. I first began by reading from a primary list of references and an annotated bibliography Professor di Gennaro gave me over the summer. These branched out to include the sources other authors were citing in their texts. Some researchers were mainly focused on citations, while other researchers had a focus of academic dishonesty. My goal isn’t so much to investigate academic dishonesty as it is to investigate citations and how accusations of academic dishonesty may exist within. I figure the two are worth studying together, so long as the information adheres to my research questions and helps further my study.
Creating the survey took several rounds of editing and distribution among my research “squad,” and it was as polished as it was going to get when we sent it off. Professor di Gennaro and I submitted our application to the IRB three weeks ago and we’re still waiting. “Patience pays,” she reassured me. Being patient is the hardest part, because I want to collect as much data as possible. The way things are going I almost feel as though I’m behind but I know everything else is going at the pace it’s supposed to. I don’t want January to come around and not hear anything back, because then I’ll be scrambling to complete all the other processes.
As I read more studies, I find myself starting to notice how each researcher’s findings inform the studies of others. There’s a conversational element because so many researchers produce points that piggyback off of each other. I can read an article and immediately know who is being referenced because I’ve read them before. There is still a lot to take in, but I feel as though I have clarity in terms of what I’m trying to investigate even if I can’t distribute my survey yet.
The title of my research project I am pursuing with Professor Kristen di Gennaro is called “Citations as Rhetorical Acts: Student and Faculty Perceptions on Citations.” The purpose of the project is to analyze how students and faculty members view citations; often, there is a very big difference between the two parties’ insights. As a part of a discourse community, professors understand the process of citations to be an ongoing conversation between fellow scholars in that community; however, students have a tendency to see citations as merely an arbitrary set of rules to be followed. Citations serve a rhetorical purpose; the goal of our project is to build a bridge between student misconception and faculty understanding so that students can better approach their discourse communities.
I began to read secondary sources for my project in the summer and was very eager to start gathering information; I’ve never performed such concentrated research before and I quickly began to dissect the dense language of scholarly texts. I felt as though I was a legitimate researcher when I began, what with the amount of responsibility, time, and information I had to balance. By the time the school year began, I’d gotten a fair head start on the preliminary steps of our research.
As Professor di Gennaro is working with two other students, she has us meet biweekly to discuss our methods and any questions we have regarding the process. At first, I was hesitant to meet in a group setting and insisted that, as we are pursuing individual topics, we would have nothing to share with each other. Now, I look forward to these meetings because we provide insight and give each other advice on how to navigate difficulties with ease.
I have a long document of notes from all the studies I have read, and now it is time to dissect them to form survey questions. In addition to surveys we will be using think-aloud protocols as a follow-up. I want to learn how to approach a topic in a truly objective manner, to step back and let the results take precedent over any overarching hypotheses I have.