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.

Mentions March 2017

In the Kitchen With Laura at Mason City
In the Kitchen With Laura at Mason City

This month’s mentions of me and Trundlebed Tales that appeared in the news during March 2017. The first article talks about doing my In the Kitchen With Laura program in Marshalltown, Iowa and the second is advertising my program in Clarksville, Iowa on April 1st, 2017. The final article is based on some suggestions I made to a follow up for a story about Field of Dreams with some additional book suggestions.

Jordan-Heintz, Sarah. “Cooking on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder Topic of Presentation.” Times-Republican [Marshalltown, Iowa], 24 Mar. 2017, http://www.timesrepublican.com/news/todays-news/2017/03/cooking-on-the-prairie Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

“Laura Ingalls Wilder Celebration Planned.” The Courier [Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa], 26 Mar. 2017, http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/laura-ingalls-wilder-celebration-planned/article_a0db2b0a-2959-52f5-b847-31b043296af7.html Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.

“Field of Dreams.” Monday Morning Eye-Opener [State Library of Iowa]. 27 March 2017, p. 3.

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.

Digital Natives and Information Literacy

I recently gave my Digital Natives program at the Kirkwood Community Colleges Collaborative Learning Days. Here are the notes and links. Even if you haven’t heard the program I think they may prove useful.

You hear the term Digital Native tossed around a lot about young people today. A true digital native would be information literate. Information Literacy, making sure people can find, evaluate for quality, and use the information that they need and think critically about it, is a big part of any library. This presentation will point out practical points that you can help people learn to evaluate and secure information. Topics covered will include website evaluation, how the Internet becomes an echo chamber of your beliefs, how to build better passwords, and the importance of a digital will.

Find an early version of this program online courtesy of the State Library of Iowa.

Below you will find the links that I used in the program. I think you will find them interesting.

What Do They Know? Dismissing a Viral Presumption About Millennials
Eszter Hargittai Delaney Family Professor, Communication Studies Department, Northwestern University

Information Literacy –

making sure people can find, evaluate for quality and use the information that they need

Find the longer definition from Association for College and Research Libraries.

Keyboard

Four Generations

Kao, Grace, Elizabeth Vaquera, and Kimberly Goyette. Education and Immigration. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013.

Online Things You Should Know

Constantly Online – Pew Research
PhotoPin to find Copyright Commons Photos
Gizmodo’s 25 Mostly Commonly Stolen Passwords from 2015
Human Memory Isn’t Good Unless It Has Been Trained
“we live in a world of misquotes.”
Password Hints from Kirkwood Community College

Double Check sources

Digital Will from DC Bar

Information Literacy Awareness

From the Information Security Office:

Iowa Information Security Office provides the Information Security Awareness Training – Summary 2016 is available to public library staff at no charge.  Libraries that would like to add their staff may contact me. I need the following information for each account created:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address (Note: each user must have a separate email address. Shared accounts are not permitted)

The office also has security awareness handouts (bookmarks and brochures) available to libraries at no charge. Libraries that would like handouts may contact office.

Alison Radl, MPA, MS-InfAs
State of Iowa
Information Security Office
SecurityAwareness@iowa.gov
515-725-2019

Design Literacy

Do you use these design principles?

Want to read the Twitter feed, but don’t have a Twitter account, no problem. Here’s how.

UPDATED January 12 2017: I added a link to a video of an early version of this program.

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 onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Time to Book a Program

We’re at the start of the new year and requests for programs are coming in!

If you’d like to see me in person, tell your local library, museum, conservation center, or service group. Still on the fence? Here’s an example of one of my programs. It’s a shortened version of my Christmas program.

Funding

If you are in Iowa, I suggest you look into funding my program through a Humanities Iowa grant. It’s just a little half page form and you can have me speak for $50 (depending on location overnight accommodations might also be required separately). You don’t have to go through a Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau grant, but it is such a good deal that I strongly recommend it for programs in Iowa that qualify. I am also available to speak out of state.

Booking a Program

Presenting at Ottumwa
Presenting at Ottumwa

The booking process:

1.       Decide roughly what you want me to do. Do you have a program in mind? Read all about my possible programs.  Are you thinking about extras like handouts or crafts? How long do you want me to be there outside of the program (for example if it’s an event do you want me to circulate awhile before the presentation and drum up interest?)? Also, do you want me for one program or more?

2.       Contact me and set up a date. We both have to agree on a date and time that works for both of us.

3.       Price depends on exactly where you want me to go and what you want me to do. Please contact me so we can discuss the details. If you don’t go through Humanities, normally I charge $200 a program with 50 cents a mile mileage, but exact charges can depend on the answers to number 1 above. You can talk with me for suggestions for funding.

Old Laura Cottonwood Tree
Uthoff dressed as 1930s by Cottonwood Tree at Memorial Site in De Smet SD

Qualifying for a Humanities Iowa Grant

As a member of the Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau, I am pre-approved for their community group grants. Find a list of requirements at the link above, but basically you need to be located in Iowa and have a program aimed at either adults or families, children only groups are not approved, but I’ve had approvals for groups that met within a school or had school groups come too as long as you also reach out to the public to come to the event. Be sure to specify how you will do that on the grant application.
Please note that you do NOT have to fill out the full grant application that is located under the Grants tab on their homepage. This is a specialized form.
If your group’s event is approved, you pay $50 and Humanities Iowa will cover most other expenses. (Extra costs might apply when an overnight stay is necessary, for supplies if you choose to add an optional craft, etc.)   For more information check their webpage.

Or contact them at:

Storytelling
Storytelling

Humanities Iowa
100 LIB RM 4039
Iowa City, IA 52242-1420

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 Ten Posts October 2016

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

Sarah S. Uthoff, "In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder"
Sarah S. Uthoff, “In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder”
Information Literacy Presentation 2
Fall 2016 Schedule for the L.M. Montgomery Society of Ontario
October 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events
What comes next? Updated
Conference Tweets on Twitter
In the Kitchen With Laura Project February 2014
What comes next?
32 Favorite Movies From 1980 On
Laura Ingalls Wilder Patch Podcast
October 2016 Presentations
Where did Albert come from?
Schedule of Presentations
Program Descriptions

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.

Library Ghost

ICPL Carnegie
ICPL Carnegie

Old buildings that creak and crack,
Moving shadows to stop you in your track,
Chairs pulled out and computers clack.

Happy Halloween!

Libraries have their share of ghosts,
“Living” near our computer hosts,
Why not? It’s where everyone loves the most.

Happy Halloween!

Ghosts in Libraries

There are plenty of stories about ghosts in libraries, after all libraries are often in older buildings, from bookshelves to children’s room decorations there are plenty of things that make strange shadows, and sometimes they have programmed or motion detector lights that are supposed to go on and off by themselves. They’re not as creepy as Silence in the Library, but it’s enough to make you nervous if you’re by yourself and who knows? That bump in the night you’re imagining may not be all in your mind at all….

Sarah on library staircaseLocal Ghosts

A favorite local ghost story happened when the Cedar Rapids Public Library was still in its old Carnegie building. A little old woman came in like clock work to check out books. One morning a staff member saw her come in and commented on her new dress. She just smiled and went on. Later the staff member heard she died and that her son had bought her a new dress to be buried in. Believe it or not.

The Champion Library Ghost

Of course the library that makes the most of its ghost is the haunted Willard Public Library in Evansdale, Indiana. Their lady in grey has  been caught in several photos since first being seen in 1937. They give special Lady in Grey tours and she is given her own section on their website. They put up a webcam in 1999 to look for her that proved so popular it crashed the entire town’s e-mail. They since added more cameras. See for yourself their best of captures and the live feeds for you to check yourself.

A runner up would be the Sweetwater County Library in Green River, Wyoming that have had ghostly occurrences there since the library opened up in 1980. Since 2006 they’ve hosted ghost walks where patrons and those interested can use real ghost hunting equipment like ghost boxes, dowsing rods, and KII meters to hunt the library ghosts for themselves. However, there is nothing about it on their website. I guess the ghost doesn’t like publicity.

And Look Here

Check out a write up of more haunted libraries from the American Library Association.

And ooooOOOOOOooooooo from the U.S. Census Bureau

NOTE: The photos are just some library photos I happened to have. Their inclusion is NOT ghost related. 🙂

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.