Friday, August 26, 2011

A few days make all the difference

Maybe you had your fingers crossed for me because a few days after I last posted, participants began steadily trickling in. I was so happy to get my first wave of volunteers that I felt like dancing like this chap below. I couldn't settle down to work again for the rest of the day.

The process of data collection has been a learning curve, figuring out what I need to keep a record of, making sure I have covered everything in my research protocol and managing the other little administrative tasks. Speaking of administrative tasks, with all the questionnaires I have been printing I must be responsible for the demise of at least one tree. The actual assessments have been a rewarding experience. Some of the measures I'm using need to be administered by a registered psychologist. It has been great to sit in and see these take place and to interact with the people participating. Also, it feels good seeing what is described in the literature come to life.

Needless to say, having data is also very exciting. I couldn't resist having a go at analysing it, despite having a minute sample size (I think at the time N = 5)! I have a slightly larger sample now and there are a few interesting and at times bizarre things cropping up but it is still too early to draw any firm conclusions. This hasn't stopped me reanalysing my data every time I get a few more participants though...

The blogger statistics tell me that quite a few people have wandered over to this page from around the world. I'd like to pose you a question, what brought you here? An interest in psychology? Research? Or did you find this blog by accident? : ) Speaking of finding blogs, I have a few under 'blogs I read' that I find interesting. Take a look if you get a chance and thanks for reading!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ten precious weeks...

I've written and re-written the first line to this post three times. Why? I don't even know where to begin. So much has happened in the last few weeks.

The first cab off the ranks on my honours news highway is ethics submission. That particular process led me through even more twists and turns than I mentioned in my last post. If I could go back in time and give myself a tip, it would be to expect that process to take longer than anticipated. Regardless, I now have ethics approval for my study!

Subsequently, I have entered the participant recruitment phase like all the other honours students. This means that I am now checking my email with ridiculous frequency, just in case someone has contacted me wanting to volunteer. Sadly, repeatedly hitting your email provider's refresh button will not make the recruitment phase go any faster...

Ever wondered about the inner working of an honours student's mind at this stage of the year? Wonder no more:  
Why isn't anyone signing up? How can I get more participants? What if I don't get enough participants? How many people do I really need? What if it takes me ages to get volunteers and I end up with no data? 
The above is a decent cross-section of discussions with fellow honours students over the last week. You might have noticed the recurring theme, a burning drive for more participants, and quickly! To be honest, I think we all need to relax a bit. Yes, we need to actively search for volunteers, but at the same time volunteers are just that, volunteers. There is only so much you can do to let them know about your study and then the rest is up to them. Let's see how zen I am about this next week though...
I think this growing anxiety over recruitment is because time is galloping away. My thesis is due in TEN WEEKS. In this time I am aiming to (read: must) have collected data from thirty participants, entered it into SPSS, analysed it, written and edited my introduction, method, results, discussion, references and acknowledgements. And of course binding and submission. Piece of cake I say with tongue firmly in cheek! I know that I will make it happen because I must. Life is nothing without a challenge.

While the last few weeks have been eventful, they have been equally surprising. At the end of last semester I sat several exams. It was with trepidation that I made my way upstairs to the noticeboard to find my marks. As usual, it took me three attempts to locate my student ID among the others not to mention those all important grades. I am not exaggerating when I say that I saw my marks and laughed in astonishment. I honestly could not believe it. I thought I had done well on one exam, but not that well! And as for the essay exam that I had been worried about, I had also earned a good grade. Finding out my results was such a morale boost, I now have a fighting chance in the competitive entry process to postgraduate psychology. I 'just' have to defend this chance by throwing my all into the rest of the assessment tasks and my thesis!

Until next time, thanks for reading and good luck with your studies : )