Research is about gathering or recording evidence to support conclusions. Evidence is made up of data. Sometimes data exists out in the ether and you just have to go and grab it; sometimes you have find a way to create and collect it. In the case of creating, you need to know what data you want and how to create it.

In this study, we want data about how music students search for things, so we know that the method will involve having students search or asking them about searching. Specifically, we want to be able to draw conclusions about the obstacles that music students face in their search process, so the data needs to show those obstacles. In reality, most students—even music students—are not particularly aware of their search process, much less the obstacles (it’s very difficult to be aware of what you don’t know); because of this, asking them about it is not really an option. So we must set them on the course and discover the obstacles as they reach them; that is, we need to have them do the searching and watch what happens (or doesn’t!). I designed 6 search tasks, 2 each for articles, books, and scores. There is diversity in genre (vocal, instrumental, opera, chamber, theory) and language (German, French, Italian, English). The hope is that the diversity in the questions combines well with the diversity in the participants!

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