Monday, January 7, 2013


This past Sunday there was a fascinating piece in The New York Times about the pitfalls of researching. “Rapturous Research” by Sean Pidgeon (a publisher of academic books and journals at Wiley) tells us about his addiction to finding stuff. This malady even has a name: “research rapture.” I too suffer from this affliction. There. It's out.

It’s an insidious condition. A commission to write an article might come in and I'll get busy with the research. And busier. And busiest. The stuff I find! Hot stuff. Cool stuff. Lots of stuff. Way too much stuff. As I plunge deeper and deeper into the minutia of the subject, rapture overwhelms me at every newly found mite and mote, whether they are useful or not. Just one more link. Let me click on just one more link. Ah ha! Just as I suspected, a nugget, a real nugget, a fact that no one else has ever found (in reality just a piece of meaningless trivia).

Research can become the be-all and end-all. Why bother to write when you can search? Writing just gets in the way. Research rapture overwhelms the process (as most addictions are wont to do). It can become a crippling affliction. Perhaps it's a form of writer's block.

Is there no overcoming this malady? Am I my own worst enabler? Is it time to see a counselor? Maybe I should switch careers - raise African violets instead (Saintpaulia, a genus of species of perennial flowering plants in the family Gesneriaceae, native to eastern tropical Africa. The African Violet Society of America (AVSA), founded in 1946, and headquartered in Beaumont, Texas, has over four thousand members. Chilled violets turn dark within 24 hours, become water-soaked, then wither.  But the flowers adapt well to typical growing conditions found in . . . ). Help!

Any other sufferers out there?

1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely a +1 on this ;-)

    Actually I guess a lot of students know this, as research for scientific term-papers and similar projects has to be neatly done. Then at some point I catch myself being either so interested in the topic or procrastinating the writing-process so much that I just go on researching instead of writing. And the more you research, the more there is to write about.. it's a vicious circle!