How to Do Research and How to Be a Researcher
Oxford University Press, 2023, 272 pp., Hardcover. $25.00. www.academic.oup.com
The principles underlying humanity’s past and continuing acquisition of knowledge are straightforward and are illustrated here across academic fields, from history to quantum physics — stories of clever and inventive people with good ideas, but also of personalities, politics, and power. This book draws together these strands to provide an informal and concise account of knowledge acquisition in all its guises. Having set out what research hopes to achieve, and why we are all researchers at heart, early chapters describe the basic principles underlying this — ways of thinking that may date back to the philosophers of the Athenian marketplace but are still powerful influences on the way research is carried out today. Drawing on a broad range of disciplines, the book takes the reader well beyond the pure “scientific method,” which might work well enough in physics or chemistry but falls apart in life sciences, let alone humanities. Later chapters consider the realities of carrying out research and the ways in which these continue to shape its progress — researchers and their personalities, their employers, funding, publication, political forces, and power structures.