Can a Researcher Ever Stop Researching?

“Does the researching instinct ever end?”

I’ve been asking myself that question for a couple years now.

The thrill of the hunt never ends–even when it seems like I’ve mined all the data out there.

But you never know . . .

And that’s what keeps me going.

Researching like a puzzle builder

While on our family vacation recently, we worked a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

As I raked through the pieces, hunting, considering, picking up and setting down, it reminded me of research.

I examine everything, read everything, consider every piece–because I don’t know which one will be important.

In putting together a jigsaw puzzle, I always start with the frame.

Once that’s in place, I consider the other pieces: by color, mostly.

Researching a new subject is the same way.

I like to build a frame: what am I looking for?

I then comb through the material, sorting it into how it looks against the frame.

In a 1000 piece puzzle, you examine a lot of pieces.

In a book project, the material opportunities are even greater.

Meanwhile, back at the library . . .

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See how happy I look!

I can’t seem to stop, even when I’ve finished the book and turned it in.

For example, yesterday, I contacted a fellow writer to ask if she thought one of her contacts might have a photo I sought.

Mrs. Oswald Chambers releases in three months, why bother a friend?

(Well, blogging provides plenty of opportunities for never-ending research).

I need to let Biddy go and move on to another poor subject.

And that’s what I did–as soon as I returned from vacation.

For the first time ever, my local library had obtained an Inter-Library Loan that I requested.

I thought it was 17 pages on a microfiche.

It turned out to be far more on microfilm!

Researching with microfilm is quite a task, and I hadn’t done it in this century.

Raking through material, reading as fast as I could, I felt the thrill of the hunt rise.

But I had no time, the microfilm belonged to Yale University Library and they only lent it for three weeks.

What to do?

I’m sorry to report, I killed several trees.

With so much more material than I had time to read off the microfilm, I simply copied it.

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Plenty of work ahead of me!

1197 pieces of paper.


I’ll have to read everything.

The researching will take months.

Will my need to research ever disappear?

But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to let my quest for one more tidbit about Biddy Chambers fade away.

If I had time, I’d be researching the likelihood of that!

How does any researcher know when the researching is done?

(By the way, I stood at the machine copying and staring at our local genealogical library’s Tennessee genealogy.

It was really hard not to return to the census information–my great-great-great-grandfather was born there in 1809 . . . )



Can a researcher ever stop researching? How? Click to Tweet

Researching as a way of life–whether I like it or not! Click to Tweet

One microfilm to examine, 1197 pages to read! Click to Tweet

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  1. Research–I think it’s a big word that has no end. The moment we think that we have researched something completely, we realise that we have actually missed something important. An endless journey!


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