Over the course of the summer, my view on the process of conducting research changed. In the beginning I had a relatively clear idea of what would be involved and the direction that I would take. However, once I began my research, I found that most of my preconceptions were not correct. As I learned more about the topic, I got a better idea of the direction that I should take and how I should refine my research. For example, the focus of my research is on dialect and national language around the time of Italy’s formation, and I had the assumption that I would find connections between national identity and use of the national language. I later learned that the linguistic situation in Italy was much more nuanced and while there is some correlation between national identity and language use, it is far from the complete picture. Throughout the course of my research, I also found that it would be good to compare to specific regions in Italy. This is partly because of the differences in language use from region to region. It would not be realistic to adequately investigate every region with the amount of time that I have, so instead I looked at two regions that were the most representative of the social, political, and cultural factors that affected language use at the time.
The changes in my view on the research happened in part because of the amount of time that I was able to dedicate. Since I did not have any other coursework, I was able to spend time thinking about my research even when I was not actively working on it. Otherwise, I may not have had the opportunity to step back from my work and reflect on my progress, which is a very important part of research. In hindsight, I think it would have been very easy for me to get stuck in a rut if I spent all my time actively researching rather than occasionally thinking about the research that I have done.