Sunday, 14 June 2009

There's a wrong way to research

Last week in Carmarthen Library I spoke to a librarian who couldn't have been any more Welsh. His name was something like GwythenJonesyddhllangogogoch. He was lovely - a lovely, helpful Welsh librarian (there can't be many of them - based on my experience of librarians, not Welsh people). Gwy (for short) helped track down Sir William Lower for me. After an hour, we'd found several Lower references in the "Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club" records.

But Gwy started our investigation with Google. Trusty Google.

SEARCH: william lower trefenty

RESULTS:

1. The Carmarthen Historian

"Ah, I've already checked that one..."
"Oh," said Gwy, "I seeeee."

2. Carmarthenshire County Survey

"Hmm, interesting, but not-"
"Oh," said Gwy, "I seeeeee."

3. The Alchemy Web Site

"Not sure..."
"Oh..."

"Ahh," said Gwy, still not looking me in the face, "how about this one?"

4. Moonwalking - Discovering Britain by Full Moon

"That's actually-"
"There you go-ah, 'Trefenty', 'Sir William Low-er' - this could be-"
"Erm, Gwy, that's actually my website. I'm writing a book about the moon."

WARNING: Don't research using your own research - reproducing second-hand falsehoods is bad enough (see Wikipedia), but when the source of the inaccuracies is your own early research, consider your credibility gone.

No comments: