Visual metaphor for research.
Research does not occur in a vacuum. Even what appears to be the sharpest, most well-defined subject matter, question or problem (practical or conceptual) will inevitably bleed into countless other subject matters, questions or problems. A researcher must acknowledge this and still be able to construct about as sharp an image as (s)he can with the available data; data that at first glance (on the outer edge) will offer the promise of sharp, factual snap shots of reality but that will somehow end up revealing smudges that result from cross-pollution and interconnections with everything that came before and after.
On Crafting Research
I am extremely happy with the basic, no-nonsense approach to crafting research intentions proposed in The Craft of Research. By breaking the process down into basic steps of reflecting upon and then reacting accordingly on our own questions, the first few steps toward research are quite clearer and less threatening. I will use this approach with my students as soon as I get back to teaching.