Research: The good, the bad, and the anxious

Emma Wood


In research and in life, human beings are prone to uncertainty and susceptible to the circular thinking of worry. According to the DSM-5, anxiety is anticipation of future threat. Sometimes that threat comes in the form of an overlooked article or a feeble bibliography, darkening the sky of a promising idea for a scholarly endeavor. Anxiety is characterized by excessive concern and distress which can manifest itself in symptoms such as checking and obsessing. The obstacles that are met along the research trail can send up red flags in the brain that lead researchers to check and recheck the same sources and obsess over the unknown. The processes of finding answers are, of course, tied to unknowing, and in that unknowing is a hotbed for apprehension. Some of the remedies for anxiety may be applied to research, probably not Xanax, but certainly a heavy dose of acceptance.

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