Want to know a secret? In my past life I was a serious American Idol fan. I donât know why I got so swept up in the concept of a reality singing competition. I certainly canât sing, but Iâve always been a sucker for the contestants who are portrayed as train wrecks and then shock the judges with their talent. While Iâve made efforts recently to overcome my addiction to Idol, I admit that I recently snuck a peek at the US version of X-Factor, which, unsurprisingly, has now become a weekly must-see.
As Iâve continued to push through the overwhelming amount of reading material for my research, the X-Factor has become a retreat for my tired, overworked brain. Iâve hit the proverbial wall in my research: that point where you think youâre done with your readings, and then find 5, 10, 20, or perhaps 30 more sources that you must read in order to ensure that you understand âall perspectives.â Â No one warned me that being detail-oriented would lead me into such a research abyss. But, I have faith that, in spite of this seemingly endless supply of theory, statistics, and points of view, Iâll be able to make sense of the madness and produce a shiny âstarâ of an article in a few monthsâ time. Right?
Maybe itâs my mushy brain talking, but I see many similarities between this stage of research and reality TV singing competitions:
The judges are provided an endless supply of âtalentâ to sort through. You know those shots early in the season where cameras pan across an entire stadium of potential contestants? Thatâs how my bibliography looks right now.
Every contestant gets their shot to prove themselves worthy of being included in the competition. Just as each contestant has a chance to be heard, all of my sources will be read â¦with the prospect of inclusion in my article to be determined.
Some contestants steal your heart but donât make the cut. I often end up becoming overexcited about a book or an article, but in the end the content just isnât right for the scope of my research. Setting an article aside for the future is similar to the judgesâ line: âYou just werenât right for this season. Please, do try again next year!â
Somehow, after three months and a lot of audience voting â Â you have a winner. Once the judges craft that core group of contestants, the viewer voting takes over and eventually a star emerges. Iâm looking forward to the point where I can share my draft with peers who will help my article shine.
If you have a method for organizing your reality competition-like mass of sources into a coherent, star-worthy article, please share!
Photo: American Idol hopefuls by Bamakodaker on Flickr, CC By-NC-ND 2.0