The Gold Mine Trap

In researching, as in gold mining, there are basically two types of  prospectors:

  1. Goldpanners, who find a decent source and try to pick out the occasional good nugget.
  2. Goldminers, who meticulously hunt for the best lode to get lots of stuff at one time.

Both have their place, but the problem arises when the researcher gets stuck in a rut with one technique or the other. This is where the trap opens – the Gold Mine Trap.

For many research purposes, the best technique to follow is neither of the above. It’s all too easy to get stuck trying to find a source that lists all the problems with a specific plan/idea/etc (the goldminer technique), when it would be much more efficient to come up with a few specific arguments and go hunting for backup.

Watch to see if you’re getting stuck in a rut, and try hunting for more specific evidence. It takes a little experimentation to find the right style for each topic, but it pays off.

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