Research skills and imaginative approach

Below, the motto: FULGET SEMPER VIRTUS

Studies of Two Ears and of a Bat by Jusepe de Ribera ©Metropolitan Museum of Art

Notes from a session with MA Fine Arts students about research skills.

Begin with a broad view = overview
When you paint a landscape you start with a big brush, then you move to areas and lastly you add little details and final touches. The process of doing a research it’s quite similar. You bring stuff together, you write down and follow ideas and then you refine them.

Stay open to ideas
I think it’s important to listen to ideas and adopt an explorative approach. Even if your ideas are grouped in a messy way they will organically move and group together. It’s important to recognize links and making connections between ideas and literature.

Stay creative and pragmatic
In the research process you should try to connect ideas and play with them. At the same time you have to take into consideration the amount of time available and the relevance of the research to the curriculum.

Understand the research journey [Questions-Method-Conclusion]
Everything starts from a question that should be relevant, manageable, substantial and above all interesting = do something that engages you. During the research journey you will strength your identity and potentially become an expert in that area. Go and conquest your plot of land!

Students were particularly interested in knowing how to keep together a large amount of references texts, images and input. They had problems with referencing software like Refworks and they would like a software that helps them record what they have found. A solution could be recording what they found using a simple Word document and then refine the material using a referencing software. There is a brand new web and mobile tool called RefME. It uses scanning technology to create essay bibliographies.


Information searching and writing as intertwining processes

Man Seated on the Ground, Writing by Anonymous, Italian, Roman-Bolognese, 17th century ©MoMA

As a distant learner student I am asked to prepare and write a number of academic essays. It’s so interesting that I am at the same time a student and a potential librarian. I am exploring how (as librarian) I can give advices and guidance on the information searching process and at the same time (as student) I apply directly those. I feel quite privileged to have this direct impact on myself. It’s like being a doctor and a patient at the same time.

Writing (on the top of that in a foreing language) it’s a temporary issue that I am trying to overcome. In order to prevent the writer’s block I am going to use the ‘information searching and writing as intertwining process’ (Torras, 2009:63). It’s composed in to two parts:

1) Writing before reading

– Help find own voice

– Formulate own thoughts better = Inital thoughts and consideration

2) Writing while reading

– Establish a dialogue with literature = dynamic process

– Understand thoughts

When I prepared my first assignment I made the mistake of waiting to much before actually writing my thoughts. I was afraid of exploring and formulating my onw thinking but I admit that I wasted a lot of time. This time I will follow Torras’ suggestion and I’ll take more into consideration my personal ideas. It’s now time to be confortable with my own voice from the very first stage of my information search process. I will come back again about the writing process because it’s something that intrigues me.


Torras, M. (2009). Information literacy education : A process appraoch : Professionalising the pedagogical role of academic libraries. Oxford: Chandos.