The tools of research: insight, perseverance, and a good library
Discoveries do not come out of the blue. They require not only the insight and perseverance of the researcher, but also what might be termed the intellectual infrastructure needed to carry out this research. Without the proper resources--journals, books, electronic databases, and computers (amongst others)--researchers will be very limited in their ability to contribute to the universal body of knowledge. In a well-known example, it took Charles Darwin a couple of years to come up with the concept of natural selection, a key component to his ideas on evolution. The concept did not spontaneously generate in a moment of euphoria ("eureka!") during journey throughout Latin America, particularly the Galapagos Islands. Only after reading books such as Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, or Robert Malthus's Essay on Population was he able to put the different pieces together by 1842. Even after he came up with the concept, it took him another 15 years of research and communication with other British biologists to gradually accumulate the necessary information to produce his magnum opus: On The Origin of Species. The series of chats posted on ictal.org describe some of the basic requirements needed to do good research--be it in the humanities, social sciences, or natural science.