In researching, as in gold mining, there are basically two types of prospectors:
- Goldpanners, who find a decent source and try to pick out the occasional good nugget.
- 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.