My Struggles While Completing Humanities Research


My Struggles While Completing Humanities Research

This semester, I have been working with the Visual Media Workshop (VMW) at the University of Pittsburgh to get hands-on experience doing research. I have been contributing to the Itinera database created by the VMW. The database displays travelers of the past, their locations, and the relationships they made along the way. Throughout my first experience in research project (FER), I have faced many obstacles many of which pertain to doing research outside of a STEM field.  

Organizing the information I have found in a way that fits into the Itinera style has been difficult; naturally, my brain looks for anecdotal tidbits about a historical figure. Training my eyes to search for dates and proper nouns will hopefully lend itself as a skill for future research. Having a lot of freedom in which direction I take my findings has been a benefit and struggle. Many other students doing FER have specific instructions on testing data or following strict directions to complete a scientific test. Since I am able to choose who I would like to study and how I want to display my findings, it has been hard to make these choices and feel confident in my decisions. There is no set end goal for my project or amount of results I am expected to retrieve.

The only element I am required to do is create a poster for the end of the semester that explains my purpose and what I have been spending my time doing. This structured requirement has forced me to consider how I would like to structure the information I will be sharing. I have to describe a database and my contributions as well as my personal growth as a researcher. Unfortunately, my presentation can no be electronic, it must be in poster format. This medium will force me to design a format for the poster that will best display my results in an easy to understand way.

Since there has not been one consistent goal or end requirement for my work, I am nervous to attempt to explain my purpose. Ultimately, I believe my time in the VMW has aided me in getting out of my comfort zone, finding new ways to research, and how to draw conclusions on an unfinished or unending project; the Itinera database will continue to grow but my contributions will cease.

  • VMW