Confession time: I’ve spent the majority of my time during my two and a half years at university hating and whinging about research, but this week I’ve actually found out I love (okay maybe love is a little excessive. I like very much), conducting my own research.
This week I finally uploaded my dissertation study onto EPR (the online study site used by the school of psychology to get participants for their studies). I’m conducting a joint study with two others and it took us nearly two days to figure out how to actually make the survey, what to put in the debrief form, what words to use or to leave out etc, and then it took me the best part of Monday morning to figure out how to actually upload it (I’d selected the wrong type of study right at the start of the process. Whoops.) But we finally did it! I’ve already had emails from participants, and, although it can be inconvenient logging onto EPR regularly to grant credits to people who have completed the study, I’m really enjoying being so hands on.
I’m even enjoying writing it up! This week we also had to hand in a dissertation protocol in which we had to write an abstract, a literature review, and a method section for our dissertation study. It isn’t marked but we will be given constructive feedback so I wanted to take it seriously so that I can see where I’m at. This meant a few days in the library, but reading up on my area of research (cyberbullying and mental health if you’re interested) was quite fun. Usually when we’ve had reports to write we were just given a question and a data set and told to get on with it, and I’ve not really enjoyed reading around any of the report topics. I think because a dissertation is so much longer than a report, it’s on a topic that I’m interested in, and it’s something I will be with from start to finish, it is much easier to engage with the literature.
Like I said before I’m quite surprised that I’m enjoying my dissertation, and I like that it’s opening my eyes to how fun research can be (I realise how dull that must sound people not interested in psychology!). If I could offer one piece of advice to first and second years, and perspective students though it’s, pay attention in your research methods/statistics lectures because, although they are obviously useful for your exams, they will come in very useful in third year!