As an aside to my other post on this week’s blogging question: I worry about the psychological impact of the expectation that the research process will be made public along with the final product. I think that there is something private about process work which deserves respect. The magic of note taking and rough drafts is in their presumed personal and ephemeral nature. That they are disposable is exactly what is so liberating. I find I am more creative and take more intellectual risks in my process work than I ever can with something that is public from the start. Even though the process work of historical figures can be rich and rewarding – when considering the research going on right now, we need to weigh the potentially smothering anxiety that comes with producing something under the expectation public scrutiny. There are things which I deliberately do not back up on my computer, because psychologically, I need them to be temporary.
If I had to make my research materials public, I know that whatever I made available would be heavily edited and weeded. In the end, would that still serve the same purpose for future researchers as do the kinds of archived process materials (i.e. Bell’s notebooks) that Alan Galey is talking about in his blog post?
(For the record I’d like to add that I take no issue whatsoever with planning to make one’s raw data public – that’s just polite!)