Sunday, 16 January 2011

Case study: Introduction

Over the next few weeks I am going to describe each stage of the building of my prosopographical database. This is primarily for my benefit, because I have always found it useful to write out before I start a new stage a description of how I propose to carry out that stage. This acts as a plan of the intended operation which gives me a spurious sense that I know what I'm doing and acts as a reminder of what to do when I come back to the task after an interval.

I will afterwards write up the plan, drawing attention to where the original was inadequate, so that other people who want to do something similar won't waste the time that I did finding out how to do the job properly.

It will also be useful to inform my supervisor on my course how I am approaching my research, the Collecting part of the Collecting > Selecting > Perfecting thesis-writing sequence which I describe in my Software for Biographers: 2 post. Likewise it may form the core of an appendix to my thesis, if and when its revised topic is accepted by the University and it finally gets written.

I intend to make it a "warts and all" narrative, spelling out the mistakes I make and describing the blind alleys down which I will inevitably wander. It will also act as a safety valve, enabling me to let off steam when software or hardware problems hinder or halt progress. Let's hope (however vainly) that my writing about such matters is minimal!

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