Originally I conceived of posting a "Roadmap for researching x" but I assume that would be too localized for this site.
Background: After much dilly-dallying, I have finally zoned in to pursue lifetime in Taoist research. I have studied mathematical philosophy, cultural anthropology, symbolic logic and enrolled in Eastern studies class for next semester. I understand the professor for latter class would be an excellent source of reference but currently semester is closed.
Problems facing: As I learned in English class it is important to take copious notes during research even if it means 24 hours so I am currently photographing everything that pertains to Taoism. But due to the complex nature of the subject itself and the concept of wu-wei, action in non-action, I am unsure as to how to approach research. I understand if I pursue degree in this field I should familiarize myself with the language and journals and pretty much everything that is related to it. This brings me to my original point:
Question: What would be a good strategy to do research on Taoism? Do I conceive of a thesis and work downwards from it? Or do I start from the scratch - so to speak- and bootstrap my way to a knowledge base. Problem with latter and given the complex nature is if I start with no thesis, then it would be an aimless wandering. But- then again, isn't that what Taoism is all about?
EDIT: In lieu of JeffE's comment below I am rephrasing the original question:
During a research, is it a good idea to start with a working thesis as early as possible?