Spencer writes in the library, part 14: Reading and eating

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This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Saturday, September 6th around 11:00am.

The Spot

Where am I working today?

I am on the first floor of the west wing, at a swanky little lounge area near the coffee shop and eating area. In fact, it looks so swanky that I’m not even sure I’m supposed to be here; part of me is afraid that there’s an exclusive Platinum member MSU library card I’m going to have to show to keep sitting here.

What’s a perk of this spot?

Definitely the swank (as long as I don’t get kicked out).

What’s a problem with this spot?

No desks. Laptops have their name for a reason, I guess, but I always find it more comfortable to have my computer up on a desk while I’m working.

What have I learned in this spot?

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Most of the time, I’ve kept my lunch at Erickson Hall while working at the library and gone back there to eat. Erickson isn’t open on Saturdays, and I’ve been too lazy to get weekend access to the building, so today I’ve been forced to take my lunch at the library itself. It turns out that it isn’t too bad – the microwaves aren’t bad, the eating area is spacious and kind of nice, and there’s plenty of hand sanitizer, napkins, and everything else I need to keep clean. Now I just need to find out if there are secret fridges somewhere in the library, since bringing along an ice pack or two to keep my lunch cold is usually a pain.

How would I rate this spot?

3 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

I’m stretching my definition of research today – I’m enrolled in a qualitative methods class this semester, and I spent some time before lunch working on a “practice research” project for that. Each member of the class made a short PowerPoint presentation to introduce herself or himself, and the teacher asked us to analyze them and “research” them however it came most naturally to us.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

I had my doubts about this project at first, but I actually learned a fair amount from it. First, there are interesting things that you can learn from just about any set of data. I don’t think I’ll be publishing any papers on PowerPoint introductions any time soon, but I have started some projects based on publicly-available data. I’ve found that if you know how to ask the right research questions, just about any collection of data can give you interesting and important answers. That brings me to the second thing that I learned: I’m still very much an insecure second-year student, but the work that I’ve done so far has already given me certain assumptions about what research is and how it is done. Even though I’ve never done a project quite like this before, I was surprised at how naturally some of the steps came to me because of previous work I’ve done. Then again, I haven’t gotten feedback for the assignment yet, so for all I know, I’ve done a terrible job.

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