chapter  1
Research skills and how to acquire them
Pages 1

Researchers are sometimes thought of as rather special and perhaps even peculiar people. The cartoon image of the research worker as a ‘mad scientist’ or an inspired genius still has some credence with the public. Yet it was the prolific inventor Thomas Edison who, when asked how he accounted for his success, replied, ‘Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.’ Research is very largely a problem-solving activity, and while inspiration is certainly needed in order to make progress, it is rarely sufficient. Successful researchers are those who possess the knowledge and skill that enable them to overcome the problems inherent to the process of research. They may appear to proceed purely by means of flashes of insight and serendipitous hunches but in fact they are specialists in complex problem-solving.