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There's No Hope of Doing Perfect Research

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Submitted By joepraba
Words 1662
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Essay August 6, 2011 Written by Joseph Prabagar

There Is No Hope of Doing Perfect Research (Griffiths, 1998, P97) Do You Agree?

When I was asked to write an essay on the statement above, I went to Google to get an idea. What I found amazed and belittled me all the same. Hundreds of essays were already available on this very statement! And I, having read countless books, had not encountered this declaration made by Morwenna Griffiths on page 97 in her book entitled, Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence… until now.

Majority of the uploaded essays on the web began by quoting the definition of the word ‘research’ and then elaborated on the definitions before proceeding to agree with the ‘no perfect research’ doctrine proclaimed by Griffiths. One particular essay that was published in TermPaper Warehouse – The Term Paper Factory, caught my attention. It was simple, direct and made absolute sense.

The opening paragraph of this essay summarized Morwenna Griffiths’ statement as a realization that, as humans we have the capacity do our best research but we must also accept that it cannot be perfect (Asymphonical Do I agree? Yes absolutely.

I recollect the term paper that I did for a Sociology course in college some years ago. The subject matter was on Heavy Metal and the misunderstood fans. My research for the term paper was primarily based on questionnaires, interviews, introspection and observations. As there was a dateline to adhere to with a relatively short lead time to complete the assignment, I had to very quickly compartmentalize the approach to,

i. Research and Data Collection phase ii. Analysis and Theorizing period iii. Finalization and Publication

Arguably the core work was in the Research and Data collection phase. I knew that, the more detailed and thorough this session was conducted, the better I would be to analyze and substantiate my theory on the music genre. What I was trying to establish was that the creators of the music and those who listen to their music were not socially defunct individuals and that the music itself posed no threat to society. I theorized that, the negative perception of the leading generation i.e. parents, government authorities, teachers and religious figureheads’ etc., was due to their inability to accept the entertainment value and musicianship of this new music genre. They were unaccustomed and so were unwilling to acknowledge. Dismissing and outlawing that which is irreverent was their prerogative.

Therefore, against these challenging stances my assignment was monumental. My research had to include socioeconomic correlation and behavioral patterns of the fans and the musicians. I also had to answer questions on the music genre’s historical reason for existence and why. Moreover, in 1988 metal albums accounted for about fifteen to twenty percent of the record industry’s $6.5 billion revenue (qtd. in Weinstein, Heavy Metal – The Music and Its Culture 189). I wanted to establish these business facts as well to substantiate my stand that Metal music was okay to let thrive. I was writing my term paper in 1990.

Thus there were so many angles on research that I could take and therein lay the perennial questions ‘where do I stop?’ ‘When is it enough?’ ‘Have I looked as deeply and widely as I require?’ Deena Weinstein, the author of Heavy Metal – A Cultural Sociology took several years of research prior to publishing in 1991, what is now considered, one of the earliest academic work on this very subject. In an interview, she confessed: “The book took several years and was an intellectual challenge. There is nothing like writing to show you the holes in your ideas. Struggling to write the book advanced my ideas wonderfully” (Weinstein, “Heavy Metal Sociologist”

The research process is never complete as poignantly expressed by Weinstein. She also discovered inaccuracies in other publications, notably on the origin of the word ‘Heavy Metal’. She wrote: “There were a few books and articles, that all said it was done by Lester Bangs in his CREEM piece on Black Sabbath. Well it took much searching to find a copy of the magazine, at a library about 15 miles away. And when I got there, and read it, the term "heavy metal" was NOT there. Nor was it in the second part published two months later” (Weinstein, “Heavy Metal Sociologist”

If Weinstein had trusted her initial sources that the word ‘Heavy Metal’ was first coined by Lester Bangs she would have made an error. It’s only because she wanted to see the printed confirmation that she realized the contradiction. That’s the nature of research; continuously questioning and seeking to confirm. Consequently, I completed my own term paper on the subject albeit lesser information.

Due to time constraints and lack of research resources, I had to confine my research to the geographical area that I lived. Admittedly it was not a perfectly researched paper but it was subjectively accurate for the period and the situation at that time. As a result, unless one is able to devote oneself to the pursuit in a timeless environment and where the resources are infinite, a perfect research can only be desired by us but ill afford. Now, although in an absolute sense, research cannot be perfect, neither can it remain dormant; especially to those who seek the truth earnestly.

The abundance of written material on World War II points well to Griffiths’ theory of ‘no hope of doing perfect research’. WWII was a colossal tragedy in history that has provided endless facts, intrigues and untold stories for historians, novelist, autobiographers, and scholars to examine and unravel from various angles of perspectives.

In his book Endgame, 1945 – The Missing Final Chapter of World War II, David Stafford takes the life accounts of 9 individuals in separate circumstances during the last weeks of the war; leading up to the fall of Berlin in May 1945 and the aftermath. Through the eyes of these 9 individuals Stafford portrays the stark reality that victory in war doesn’t automatically guarantee peace and the end to suffering. Elsewhere, James Bunting in his book Adolf Hitler – His Untold Story writes about Hitler’s pathetic and ill-educated formative years as an attempt to show the reasons, that this son of an Austrian Customs Officer can become the worst tyrannical dictator in the history of mankind. In the book, Pack of Thieves – How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History, Richard Z. Chesnoff, reveals the heartless robbery of Jewish wealth by Hitler’s Germany and cohorts to finance the war.

This part of the essay is not about re-visiting the rise and fall of the Third Reich or the crimes of Hitler’s regime but rather the wealth of information and the arduous task these three authors took to gather the facts and write three diversified yet somewhat co-related compelling books. David Stafford’s bibliography in Endgame, 1945, consist a total of 14 pages with an average of 20 book references on each page. That’s 280 books! He also referred to countless manuscripts, interviews, letters, diaries and memoirs of individuals who witnessed the war. “As ever, I am indebted to many expert and hardworking archivist and librarians, invariably underpaid and overworked, who make all historical research possible” writes Stafford (xvi).

Richard Chesnoff also admits that his book was not intended as an encyclopedic and definitive record of the thefts (2). He further reveals that, the research and investigation to track the billions in total loot continues but can never be completed since much of the evidence has been destroyed and others lost with the death of the only witnesses. These three writers are amongst so many who have sought, pondered and plodded to write articles, essays, books and other literature about the war and the ramifications.

Introspectively, David Stafford wrote accounts of only 9 individuals. Did he just decide on the number or was it that the research was up to a point where he could go no further and was satisfied with the collected data to complete his book with 9 personalities? That could be a plausible speculation. In my opinion, after the author had the book’s outline in place; he put his research mechanism to action. He inquired and investigated and then utilized all the accurate and verified data to write his chapters for Endgame, 1945. He did his best possible research work given the resources and timeline that he had.

Suffice to say, a perfect research wouldn’t have allowed him to publish his book at the time that he did. In the end, it is imperative that a subject be diligently and systematically investigated in order to discover or revise facts, theories, and applications (“Research” As long as the subject’s objective at the given time and circumstance is established with evidence, records, paper trails and whatever else, the research can be labeled perfect but perfect in a subjective and relative state – ready to be un-perfected in due course. There is no hope of doing a perfect research otherwise. Agreed.

Works Cited:

Asymphonical. “There's No Hope Of Doing Perfect Research”. TermPaper Warehouse. 18 May 2011. Web, 4 Aug. 2011.

Bunting, James. Foreword. Adolf Hitler – His Untold Story. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House, 2003. v. Print.

Chesnoff Z., Richard. Introduction. Pack of Thieves – How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History. London: Phoenix, 2001. 2-3. Print. Douglas Harper, Historian.

"Research". Online Etymology Dictionary. n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2011.

Stafford, David. Introduction. Endgame, 1945. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007. xvi. Print.

Weinstein, Deena. Heavy Metal – The Music and Its Culture. rev. ed. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2000. 189. Print.

Weinstein, Deena. Interviewed by Prof.ManiC. “Heavy Metal Sociologist”. The True Metal Force. n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2011.

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