Article excerpt

I have been reflecting, over the last few months, on the changes in how I conduct research and write. When I wrote my masters thesis for the University of Chicago Graduate Library School (R.I.P.), I used the trusty note card system to record my findings, being careful to write the source on each card and the page number if I was quoting from it. I used printed indexes and the card catalog to find sources, and knew by heart the Joseph Regenstein Library stacks that that held the library science materials. The worst part of the process was assembling the information into a coherent whole. I typed, retyped, and retyped some more, and literally cut and taped it together. I gave up when I was finally at the point of typing the final error-free manuscript and hired someone to do it. He had to use carbon paper to create two copies.

Twenty years Men when I researched and wrote the thesis for my second masters, I had a computer. Photocopiers were ubiquitous and I made good use of them. I had access to indexes on CD-ROM and, though they were not necessarily retrospective, searching them was so much easier than dragging heavy bound volumes over to a table and noting possible sources on a piece of paper. Because I used a computer, turning the thesis into my first book was not too difficult.

Forward fifteen years and I am working on another book. Writing is still a painful process (though so much easier with electronic cut and paste), but researching is truly a pleasure--and a seductive one, at that. …


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