Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Research and Roughnecks
August 7, 2008, 3:00 am
Filed under: Research, Thoughts

I’ve recently become a fan of the TruTV series Black Gold (by the creators of Deadliest Catch which I also love!). The show is about Texas oilfields and goes through the process of what it takes to drill a hole that could produce oil. I love the show because it’s about a bunch of tough guys, known in the oil business as roughnecks, doing hard physical work that I wouldn’t dream of doing, and also because there are so many similarities between drilling for oil and research.

When digging a hole for oil, drillers have a general idea of where they should be digging. However, there is no guarantee that their hole will produce oil. Even with the most sophisticated geological instruments, there is no guarantee that a selected site will produce any revenue.

As with research, we can come across a resource that would appear to be valuable. This resource might be a list of names or links, and is something we get excited about. However, there is no guarantee that the information we need or want is buried somewhere within the links, or can be found through further investigation.

Once a rig is set up and a hole is started, there are many things that could affect drilling and the amount of time it takes to drill that 2 mile deep hole. Faulty equipment, an inexperienced hand, rough layers of earth, and many other things can slow the process down, sometimes even to a grinding halt.

When conducting research, there are also many things which can affect the speed at which research can be conducted. Insufficient, or inefficient, sourcing tools, a new or inexperienced researcher, or simply lack of information available for a specific resource, can slow research down. Not having the appropriate tools with which to conduct research will cause the researcher to have to work much harder to find information. A newer researcher who has not learned some of the shortcuts or doesn’t know where to go for information will take longer to complete a task. And of course, if there is little or no data available, that of course makes the search harder as well.

When it’s all said and done and the crew has drilled 2 miles into the earth, even at that point in time there is still no guarantee that the work they’ve done will produce anything of value. There might be no oil in the hole and the oil company, which probably risked somewhere around $2MM, would have gambled and lost.

With research, when you’ve completed a search assignment, there is no guarantee that any contact will result in a hire. There is no guarantee that a recruiter will even use your list, reach out to those contacts, or even find what they’re looking for in your research.

So, what’s the payoff? In drilling for oil, when a supply of oil is found, it could mean millions of dollars every year and several hundred millions over the life of the well. In research, you could call the ‘black gold’ of research the networking that can result from contacts. A researched list of, let’s say, 40 contacts could result in hundreds of additional contacts that are referred from the originals. And of course, there are always the hires and placements that can result from a good contact list. BUT – you never know until you take a chance and put forth the effort.

Not every endeavor will be fruitful. But the times that do produce good results will outweigh and overshadow the times where nothing good is uncovered. Just ask anyone from Texas in the oil business. It’s risky, but the risk is worth it when you hit paydirt. The same applies to research – it can be a bit of a risk to spend time on a new resource, or an untested method but you’ll never know what good may come of it unless you give it a shot.

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3 Comments so far
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This was interesting – thanks!

Comment by Maureen Sharib

I enjoy these shows and I find them much more interesting then so called reality shows. As we see our lifestyles change from Oil fueled consumers to altrnative energy products. We want more information so we stay glued to the TV to see how they do it. thanks for do the research.
David 🙂

Comment by Dave C

[…] also written several pieces on what makes a researcher a good one: check them out here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Oh and make sure to check out this post which talks about all the sources […]

Pingback by Referring Is NOT Sourcing « Amybeth Hale - Research Goddess




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