Research and Documentation is my passion and I hope that these
pages will help make it exciting and rewarding for you as well!
The following pages will walk you through the process of researching a project (including some easily available sources to get you started), writing the documentation, using appropriate citations in that documentation, and entering it into Arts and Sciences Competitions, even a FAQ about the Northshield Kingdom A&S Competition. A list of my relevant classes on these matters is at the bottom of this page. I invite you to join the gleeful geeking!
A Message from Eithni about Research and Documentation:
I hear over and over again that “writing term papers is no fun” and that people avoid competitions because they are stressful, difficult, and/or demoralizing. While there is a certain amount of time and effort than must go into any research project and having your work judged is not always easy, I think that a change of perspective will show the profound value of both research and, yes, competitions.
The initial purpose of research is to make sure that we are doing things right. Medieval people were not foolish or wasteful – there generally was a reason for the way things were done. Learning and understanding those reasons and processes can help immeasurably in our own attempts to recreate the past.
A secondary purpose of research is evident when we look at its child, documentation. Documentation is so much more than a term paper – it is your opportunity to collect the information you have learned and to organize it in a way that makes sense to you and includes references to all the sources you have used. The value to this is twofold. First, when you later want to find information about a project you have done – either to further your understanding of the topic or to replicate the original project – you will have a ready refresher of the material, notes on what you did or would like to have done, and references to all the resources you used in the project. Secondly, documentation is an excellent way of sharing your research with other interested people. We live in a global world these days, and the people who may be interested in your project could live on the other side of the globe just as easily as just down the street. Having a document where your thoughts and processes are clearly laid out that can be shared in an instant in an email or on a website is invaluable. The most fun part of digging into deep nerdery is finding other people who also enjoy your geek, who can appreciate your enthusiasm, and who can build a community of co-researchers.
Competitions and Displays are also an excellent way of sharing your project with other people in a physical realm. Competitions challenge you to bring your best, to put those extra levels of time and attention into a project – to present YOUR personal best. Even before any judging begins, you have the opportunity to see and be seen, to show off your project, and hopefully to meet other people who are excited about your topic of research. While the judging itself can be anxiety-provoking, I think that the best way to approach it is to disregard your final score relative to the other entrants. Winning is, of course, fun, but the real purpose in a competition is to get direct, personal feedback on your project and to get objective input on both your successes as well as your areas where you could refine it. In Northshield, at least, we do face-to-face judging, which is an opportunity for the judges to engage with the entrant in a conversational style, obtain additional information that might not appear in the written documentation, and to offer suggestions of books, journals, materials, contacts, and other resources that might lead to an even more successful project on the next attempt. The less you focus on WINNING and the more you are open to GROWTH, the more satisfying a competition becomes.
For those of you who remain uncomfortable with the competition process, I still encourage entry into displays, particularly those that allow for comment or that offer non-scored judging where you can obtain the feedback benefits of a judged session without worrying about the score. If nothing else, a display with the option to obtain comments allows you to show off your work, inspire others, and find others who are interested in your field.
I encourage you to explore the following pages to learn more about the research and documentation process. And, of course, I always welcome suggestions and additions to the resources presented here. Please contact me with any questions!
Go forth and nerd!
Eithni’s Research and Documentation Classes
Arts and Sciences Competitions
- Writing Documentation
- Documentation Template – for a physical entry
- LeakYourGeek (teaching)