So we’ve finally reached the end of my research project. Over the course of these past few month I like to think I have learned a few things about my research topic, as well as the practise of research in general.
As I have discussed in my previous blog posts, this project started with a curiosity and interest in health and nutrition and why people have varying opinions on what is considered to be healthy. This is ultimately what I decided to base my research project on. As this is a genuine interest of mine, I made sure that I completed my research to the best of my ability, for myself, for my stakeholders and for those who have assisted me in completing my project. I was able to do this through attending the BCM212 lectures, where we discussed the aspects of research and how to ensure your research is ethical and effective.
One topic that we discussed in the lectures is socially responsible research design. In this lecture, we learned about our responsibility to ourselves and to those who are following our research. I made sure I updated my stakeholders on my progress through twitter and through blog posts, as I knew I was responsible for their inclusion in my project. Additionally, I attached a link to my blog and my twitter on the Big Spreadsheet on moodle, where the rest of the BCM212 cohort could access my blog and participate in my survey. In hindsight, I feel I could have posted a few more blogs in order to update my followers more regularly.
When developing my survey and focus group questions, I referred to the Harvard Guide to survey design (2017) and Duke’s focus group guidelines (2005). In doing so, I was able to ensure that my survey questions were concise and easy to understand, focusing mainly on quantitative data. I was then able to go into further detail with my focus group questions, by discussing the epistemological aspects of my survey questions. Additionally, I employed strategies from the Lean Research Guide (2015) to ensure that my research practises were ethically sound. To answer the guide question “How are we designing the informed consent process to ensure that research subjects receive all the information that they need in a way that is understandable to them in order to decide if they wish to participate in the research or not?” (2015) I included a blurb at the beginning of my survey, which briefly described my project and thanked stakeholders for their participation. There was a similar description at the beginning of my focus group.
When conducting my survey, I was unable to gain enough participants in order to collect sufficient data, although I tweeted the link to my survey several times. This issue was later combated in class, when my tutor assisted me in getting my classmates to complete the survey.
The lecture topic I feel I related to the most was flexibility. This is when we discussed how to maintain a good schedule and manage our time to complete our project on time and effectively. Additionally, we discussed risk management strategies and what we would do if our project did not go to plan. Xavier Amatriain’s discussion of managing research in an agile way (2011) goes into detail about planning your project.
I did not run into any significant problems when conducting my research and I did not often find myself completing a significant amount of work within a limited time frame. I was able to stay on time and prioritise my tasks based on importance and what need to be completed in order to move on to the next task. However, I believe I could have organised my time better by creating a schedule that would allow for testing my project, as Amatriain suggests. This would have improved my ability to create an effective survey and thus develop focus group questions that would allow be to better answer my initial research question.
This entire process gave me the essential tools to conduct research in an operative manner. Going through the steps to complete each task on time has helped me to value the importance of planning and managing your time.
All-in-all, this has been a significant learning experience for me, and I believe that the knowledge I have gained – both through experience and retrospection – will assist me in my future endeavours.
Thank you all for sticking with me during this process!
Amatriain X 2011, “Managing Research the Agile way” Techno California, Weblog post, 15 March 2011, viewed 31 May 2017 <http://technocalifornia.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/managing-research-agile-way.html>
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University 2015, The Lean Research Framework <https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B36nNXj12OvSMmJhZHRpOHZBMmM/view>
Guidelines for conducting a focus group 2005, <https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf>
Harrison, C 2007, Tip Sheet on Question Wording, Harvard University Program on Survey Research, updated 17 November 2017, viewed 19 April 2017 <http://psr.iq.harvard.edu/files/psr/files/PSRQuestionnaireTipSheet_0.pdf?m=1357530492>