How Research Works: The Yale Goals Study

The more I work as a reference librarian, the more convinced I am that most people don’t have a good idea in their head about what the process of research looks like. Also, people have trouble telling the difference between something well researched and something not. So from time to time, I like to highlight articles that I’ve come across that do a good job explaining the process the researcher went through to get as close as possible to the truth.

I have previously posted about Clark Gable’s Undershirt and Easter Island.

The Yale Goals Study

Today’s post features an element that drives my friend Nancy Cleaveland crazy, using information because “I read it somewhere.” She even named her sock monkey Iris in honor of this frequent comment.

Oliver Burkeman and the Fast Company noticed that the Yale Goals Study was frequented cited in self-help materials, but that an official academic citation was never used. So they set out to find the study, but couldn’t….

https://www.fastcompany.com/3002763/why-setting-goals-could-wreck-your-life

For a follow up, check out the Yale University’s answer to the question. It also describes its efforts to prove or disprove the theory some of which is used in the article above, so of which isn’t.

What The Story Shows About Research

I especially appreciated:

  1. That they wanted to trace back a source.

This is one of the times when it’s important to back trace a reference. You don’t have to do this for every source you use, but the more you rely on it, the more work you should do tracing it down. References aren’t supposed to be, BUT CAN BE, a bit like playing telephone, especially when a direct quote isn’t used. Having an idea in your head you can easily grab an idea from someone else and cite it in a way they wouldn’t have. A couple of citations down the line and it can be established that someone means something that they never did or weren’t sure about or were postulating as a possibility. Even a quote can be taken out of context to shade its meaning closer to what you want. In this case a study, The Yale Study of Goals, wasn’t academically cited just passed along from one motivational speaker and/or writer to another.

2. Dig

They did a search themselves looking for both the study itself and for instances when the study was cited to trace it back.

3. Contacted Multiple People And/Or Groups

Branches of research and organizations can be very insular. Sometimes people strain to prove things that other people either already have or know about. Before you invest too much work into a topic, ASK! I can think of several times I’ve seen that happen in Laura research alone where someone had done the research and someone else came along and not knowing about the original research re-did the search. That is not always bad, sometimes you can pick up something they missed, but for basic facts it’s often a lot of unnecessary work that can they be applied to fresh subjects instead. Often even if you want to reconfirm the work it might give you locations of collections or information that you might not have thought to check so ask organizations and people first.

Sometimes an organization is just in a better position to search for information than any individual. In this case they turned to the Yale University Archivist who also involved the Yale Alumni Association. The association had access to members contact information which allowed them to quickly survey a good chunk of the class in question. They also were an organization the class members already had a relationship so they were more likely to respond to them. An individual could have done the same thing, but at the cost of a lot more research and likely a lower response rate.

4. And a Problem Analysis

They then took the idea that the non-existent survey was wrong and looked for information to support it. This is the weakest part of the article as they only give one example. Perhaps they offer more in the book? However, a single example, while illustrative, is hardly compelling and even if they didn’t take us through the full explanation of each listing a couple of more examples we could follow up on our own if we wanted to would have strengthened the piece.

Conclusion:

So let me say kudos to them for actually looking at a source and tracking it down. They did what the speakers who were building their careers on motivation should have done themselves. Although proving a negative is very difficult, this seems to pin down fairly conclusively that no such study, at least at that time and place, ever existed. The piece is much weaker in them proving that because the study didn’t exist that it was necessarily wrong in its conclusion. A further exploration of long term studies that DID exist and focused on goals would have had a lot to the strength of the piece.

Bonus: But why 1953?

There probably was a reason the person who told the story originally settled on 1953. However, putting a date on something always makes it seem real. I would bet that whenever it started the 1950s were far enough past that it worked with the story of checking later in life and it was probably in a year that ended with 3. People like round numbers and 30 years, 40 years would make it a nice figure.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Mentions October 2017

Sarah at Reference Desk
Sarah at Reference Desk

This month I created both of this month’s mentions. The first one is the video I made as part of my campaign for Vice President Elect of the Iowa Library Association. I know you can’t vote, but I did a nice job on the video if I do say so myself (hard time limit of 3 minutes, no edits or effects).

The second is a blog post I did for the L.M. Montgomery Institute’s Anne of Green Gables Readalong. Check out all of the readalong chapters, they are doing a chapter a week through June. (The date on the blog post is when it was published unfortunately the date only shows if you click on blog and bring up the list of posts.)

Uthoff, Sarah. “Sarah Uthoff – VP/Pres-Elect.” YouTube, uploaded by Iowa Library

Association. 28 Sept. 2017, youtu.be/y271IvMjFR8

Uthoff, Sarah. “Anne of Green Gables Read-a-long: Chapter VII: Anne Says Her

Prayers.” L. M. Montgomery Institute. 31 October 2017.

https://www.lmmontgomery.ca/anne-green-gables-read-long-chapter-vii-anne-says-her-prayers Accessed 7 November 2017.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Top 10 Posts During October 2017

Sarah at Flindt's Garage on Ingalls Homestead
Sarah at Flindt’s Garage on Ingalls Homestead

Here are the blog posts and pages that have had the most views last month. Take a look maybe there is something there that will interest you too. :)

Laura Ingalls Wilder 2017 Season Ends

T-Shirt of the Month October 2017

What comes next?

Laura at Halloween

In the Kitchen With Laura Project February 2014

1600th Post

Program Descriptions

November 2017 Presentations

DVDs of South Dakota Conference Available

In the Kitchen With Laura July 2014

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,   LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

November 2017 Presentations

I have two presentations scheduled this month. I almost had two more but things didn’t work out. The lesson – book early.

  • Hatch Public Library – Mauston, WI – A Visit by Laura – November 1, 2017 – 1 pm
  • History Camp Iowa – State Historical Society – Des Moines, IA – Wilder Thanksgiving: From Pioneer to Pilgrim November 11, 2017 (Registration Required)

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura at Halloween

Legalese-ish

Please note judicial rulings have said tweets are public speech with no expectation of privacy. This year I collected tweets and Instagram with photos old and new dressed as Laura. This list is only housing links to tweets and Instagram photos. They are not hosted in the post, just embedded links. However, if anyone is posted here objects I’ll be glad to remove the link. Also, if a tweet is deleted from an account or an account is closed these photos will disappear. Some photos will require you to click on a link to see the photo.

Now Time for Little Lauras

Enjoy these photos of little Lauras.

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Amelia Earhart and Laura Ingalls Wilder

A post shared by Mrs. Robertson’s 1st Grade (@mrsrobertson1st) on Feb 24, 2017 at 12:55pm PST

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Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,   LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 2017 Season Ends

October usually is about the end of the main Laura Ingalls Wilder season for the year. If you plan a Laura trip during or after October, make sure you call ahead. They may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see. On the plus side you get autumn foliage and then snow photos. I called around to find out when the Laura museums were officially closing for the year. Find contact information for the homesites/museums here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/laura-links/

The last few years I’ve been so late on it I’ve combined it with my Christmas event list. This year it will be coming later as a separate post.

Family members surrounding Tour Sign
Family in De Smet

Pepin, WI – Closed for the season Oct. 15, 2017.

Independence, KS – They closed for the season November 1, 2017.

Walnut Grove, MN – Museum grounds closed for the season November 1, 2017, but their Gift Shop/Visitor Center will remain open during November and December 23, 2017 from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Saturday.
Ticket sales for the 2018 pageant begin November 1, 2017. 1-888-859-3102.

Burr Oak, IA – Closed October 21, 2017. After Labor Day they are only open Thursday- Saturdays 10-4 with no tours after 3:00pm.

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – open all year with slightly reduced hours during winter, MondayFriday 9 am -4 pm.  They suggest tour times at 10:00am and 2:00pm.
Hours Chart

Ingalls Homestead – Open depending on the weather through October and then closed at the end of October 31, 2017. Office remains open for making reservations, etc. Call and leave a message if they don’t pick up. Scheduled activities only take place through September 30, 2017. People are welcome to walk around even after they are closed for the year. Look for maps in plastic holders beside visitor center/gift shop doors.

Mansfield, MO – Season ends November 15, 2017.
Will reopen for one day for their Christmas event December 3, 2017.

Malone, NY – Closed October 1, 2017. Can arrange tours by appointment if volunteers available through October. Minimum admission is $25 for three or less. Four or more admitted at regular price. Arrange by e-mailing farm@almanzowilderfarm.com Re-opens for Christmas With Almanzo event (1 Day) December 2, 2017 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Spring Valley, MN – They are open everyday till Sept. 4, 2017. Then they are only open weekends (Sat. and Sun.) in Sept. and Oct. Last day of the season will be Oct. 29th. but they reopen for Christmas teas. Christmas Teas will be Dec. 2-3, 2017. It is a full lunch set in a Victorian home that was built in 1888. For more information contact the museum at wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

Keystone, SD – Closed September 15, 2017.

Vinton, IA – Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School gave me this advice.
Justin Ruegg
319-472-5221, Extension 1226
jruegg@iowa-braille.k12.ia.us
Pat Barr
319-472-5221, Extension 1110
pbarr@iowa-braille.k12.ia.us
We are open for tours Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Each tour takes 1-1/2 to two hours.  Wheelchairs are available.  There is no place that we go on the tour that a wheelchair cannot go.  If needed, tours may be given on Saturday or Sunday.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,   LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Book: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

Revisiting a great book.

Sarah's Notebook

Wrong Way Newbery

On LM_Net, a library listserv I belong to, there has been recent discussion about the Newbery Medal and if it has lost its way. A recent article posed the same question in School Library Journal.

While the SLJ article discussed previous decisions that are now looked at mistakes, choosing The Secret of the Andes over Charlotte’s Web for example, and never choosing a Laura Ingalls Wilder book for the top award, it mostly looks at the last few years where often the unusual book is chosen. I have to admit I didn’t care for many of the titles that won from the last few years and I think it’s a question well worth discussing.

Richard Peck Is A Winner in My Book

However, the fact I was most disappointed to read that A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck, the 2001 winner, never landed on the best…

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