Thinking Like a Social Scientist

What do I mean when I say thinking like a social scientist? How would I contrast it to thinking like an engineer? I am currently experiencing an interesting phase of my grad school career. I am being stretched to think beyond the limits that I was used to thinking within as an engineer. As an engineer, I had to be logical, detail oriented, and remain within the objective realm. As a social scientist, I am having to learn how to think beyond the concrete and into the abstract realm. I am definitely feeling the growing pains. As explained in an earlier post, I was continually getting frustrated because the concepts I was learning were not clear to me. My mind was having a hard time grasping them. But each time it has happened, I have pushed through it and eventually understood the concepts.

This pattern has been repeated at least three times that I can remember. The first time was early in the semester when I felt extremely overwhelmed by my data curation course. Then it happened with research methods where I had a difficult time comprehending the concept of conceptual frameworks. Then it happened again in my data curation course with the introduction of the FRBR refactored for data sets concepts. Each time, I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and feeling hopeless. Then as I continued to dive into the concepts, they started to become clearer to the point where the cloud finally lifted and I understood them.

This transition from engineer to social scientist isn’t easy, but it is part of the process. At least I now know that this is the pattern that occurs. I’m sure I will experience more of them this semester and definitely next year. It’s encouraging to see this, because I know I will eventually get it and be a better information science professional for it.

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