-- Research happens before a project is undertaken
-- The researcher's cardinal virtue is honesty
Goal-Setting: High-Level, 4 W's
-- Why are you doing this research?
-- What do you envision your end result to be?
-- Where and when in the SCA's period are you focusing?
-- Keeping these in mind helps the research plan stay focused and coherent
-- How do you intend to go about achieving the what? (This is where you set subgoals.)
-- When will you require your subgoals to be completed by? (Deadlines are important.)
-- What resources do you have to draw on?
-- Who can help you, either as a resource, a research partner, or a cheerleader?
-- The answers can become your research plan
-- Consider imitation of documentable medieval/Renaissance projects first to develop a "feel" for the aesthetics of the time
-- Then go on to produce your own variations in the same style
-- This is how a guild apprentice would have learned, too
-- Keep one even though you think you don't need it
-- Best practices: update it every time you do any work on your research plan, the same day you do the work
-- Log websites visited, books of interest, questions crossing your mind, contact information of people of interest, actual data, etc.
-- Index it
-- Books, journals
(This is a big topic that deserves more work but not right now.)
-- Literature search at your desk
-- Some basic research
-- Be careful what you trust
-- Online communities
-- Don't bite
-- Usually love to talk about their field of expertise
-- Just don't sound like you're 15 and trying to get them to do your history homework for you
-- Include an abstract
-- Be honest. Don't hand-wave problems away. It is ten times better to admit that your research was cursory than to try and pretend that your obviously modern project really has medieval roots. No one will be fooled.
-- Explain your decisions, especially if you diverge from accepted procedures
-- Cite your sources
Competitions and Criticism
-- Remember your "why"
-- The assumed "why" of a competition is typically "To become an expert in this kind of A&S."
-- If that is not your "why," the feedback may not apply to your goals and aims.
-- Judges are generally trying to be helpful. Try not to be defensive. Giving constructive criticism is also a learned skill.
-- Take whatever comments and criticisms apply to your "why" and your "what" as room to grow. Leave whatever does not apply.