Research for MALS Students

I too went to a workshop this week. Instead of learning about my digital identity (although I will say Sean’s post did prompt a google search of my own) I learned about research resources at the Graduate Center. The library had a Research for MALS Students workshop this past Tuesday. .

I studied new media prior to getting to the Graduate Center. Towards the end of undergrad, my work was focused more on practical skills than research, so I thought this would be a good place to start now that I’m in a more research based field of study. Also, I was luckily in a group that participated a lot so I got a few pro tips from my fellow students which is always a plus.

This workshop covered the whole of researching including finding a topic, methods for searching and evaluating source material, and ended with citations and paper formatting. The workshop was led by Steven Zweibel,  who is the reference librarian for the digital humanities program. Fun fact all the tracks at the graduate center have designated reference librarians. I’m sure this info will be super helpful in the not so distant future.  

We spent a little bit of time talking about the attitude towards research in undergrad versus graduate school. In undergrad you’re often told not to do research on the same topic while the whole point of doctoral and graduate research is to focus on a topic and build expertise in the area of your choosing. I knew that already, but the way it was framed in this context hit in a way I hadn’t realized before. 

Overall, I thought this workshop was a great intro the the resources available at the GC.  I’ll close by sharing a few tips I picked up in the workshop that I thought could be useful for others.

Tip 1: The following exercise is a good way to concisely think through your paper/project.

  • (Topic) I am studying _____ (Question) because I want to find out what/why/how ______ (Significance) in order to help my reader/user understand _____.

Tip 2: Save time figuring out which sources are right for you.

  • Once you have found an possible source, hit crtl F or cmd F and type in keywords at the bottom of your screen. An article can be worth the read or not depending on how many times those keywords pop up in it.

Tip 3: Theses in GC library

  • The Graduate Center Library is the only CUNY library with a section to research masters and doctoral theses. It can be a good resource especially if you find someone else has done research similar to your own.

Tip 4: Notecard for citations

  • Write page number, topic, synopsis of quote, quote itself, and what is useful about the quote as a note. This will help jog your memory later on about things you choose to cite.


3 thoughts on “Research for MALS Students

  1. Sean Patrick Palmer

    I think Tip #1 is excellent. It’s so easy to go off course when doing research (at least for me).

    And the note card system? When I taught Freshman Comp, I taught my students a version of it. It is a good way to organize things.

  2. Jennifer Cheng

    Thanks, Kiana, for the recap of the workshop. The first and second tips, especially, look like they can be useful when writing or reading texts in general. And regarding the notecard tip, I’ve found that sometimes it helps to have notecards in different colors when trying to distinguish between, say, sources or topics, particularly when you have quite a few of them.

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