#BCM212

My Research Project: Reflection

Hi everyone!

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!

REFERENCE LIST:

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>

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Information & Health: Research Project Update

Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to give you an update on my research project.

When I began this project over a month ago, I decided focus on the topic of health and nutrition. This was due to the fact that I had somewhat of a turnaround when it came to my personal views on nutrition, which became a priority in my life. I was determined to find out whether others have felt the same, and what drives people to decisions. Or, alternatively, why people chose to continue bad habits.

I’ve narrowed down my initial question that I formulated in my research proposal. The question I now intend to answer is:

How does information impact our opinions on health and nutrition?

Through this researc1603w-getty-instagram-food-photoh I am hoping that I will see more of a connection between what we consume on social media and how that influences our behaviour. Especially since showcasing healthy food and fitness regimes on Facebook and Instagram is becoming more prominent within western society.

I have constructed a survey that I will be posting within the next few days, as I am still trying to figure out which website I will use to host my research. I intend to follow that survey with a focus group, which will generate further discussion on this topic and hopefully go into a more detailed analysis of information and health.

When my survey is uploaded I will include a link in this post, as well as post the link on Twitter. Your participation would be deeply appreciated.

I will continue to update my blog as my research progresses so please stick with me if you’re interested!

 

 

Research Project Proposal – Why the nutrition confusion?

Curiosity can lead you to discover aspects about yourself that you didn’t know existed. You may discover passions and interests, as well as interesting things about the world we live in. It is curiosity that changed my perception of health, specifically, my relationship with food. I continually find myself to be curious about nutrition; is it saturated fat that is the enemy, or is it sugar? What kind of information do we have to support these arguments? Why do so many people have different opinions on what is healthy or unhealthy?

Therefore, the question I have formulated for my research is: Why are there so many varying perceptions on nutrition and what role does information play in determining these perceptions?

I aim to gain insight into the food industry and understand why so many people have contradicting opinions about health. I have often come across these contradictions in my own life. Due to my mother being a personal trainer, she is very aware of nutritional information and I often go to her for nutritional advice. She believes that a high protein, high fat, low carb diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to go, thus I tend to lean towards those beliefs myself. However, I have friends who follow a vegan diet, and see public figures promoting a high carb, plant based diet as the optimum lifestyle. So how is there information that promotes both contradicting lifestyles to be correct? What is the source of this information? More importantly, how will this affect the future of public health? Furthermore, I hope to discover what makes an individual a “fanatic” of these lifestyles.

Possible methods that I can utilise to obtain answers to these questions are focus groups or online surveys. I feel that anonymous online surveys would encourage people to be more candid about their nutritional views. I will conduct quantitative research, such as asking participants their gender, age, where they grew up and where they tend to source most of their information. I will then follow that up with qualitative research by going into more detail about their perceptions and understanding of health and nutrition. This information will hopefully allow me to observe patterns and links between the demographic of people and whether that has an impact on their nutritional views.

Additionally, I hope to explore research ethics and how to properly conduct research in a manner that is respectful to participants and their views. Specifically, how to respect opinions that may conflict with my own, and not let my bias opinions shape that way I conduct my research.

Curiosity killed the cat – Or in this case, saved my health.

Hi All!

It’s been a while.

Approximately 6 months since I last did a blog post in fact.

And while many things have stayed constant in my life over the past few months, I like to think that there have been a few positive changes as well.

This week in our BCM212 lecture we were asked to reflect on where curiosity has led us in terms of learning, and the first thing I thought of was my health. Before you roll your eyes and tune out, this is not a blog post where I brag about my vast health improvements – as much as I would like to brag, I know that it’s not what people want to hear.

Being that last year was my first year of Uni and I spent that first year on campus, my health pretty much went down the drain – which is pretty typical of first year students living away from home. My new found independence lead to some poor decisions and several kilograms gained, and it took me a year to realise that enough was enough.

My curiosity essentially led the charge, taking me to various health websites and all of the food documentaries that Netflix has to offer. I learned so much about the food industry and the misinformation that is perpetuated and believed by the public. And while I would like to share all of that information with you, that is not really the point of this post so I encourage you to find out for yourself.

To sum up, my health has improved and I’m finally back to where I started, for now anyway. I’ve learned that curiosity is a powerful tool that allows us to absorb information and perhaps find new passions.

If it weren’t for that burst of curiosity all of those months ago, my chubby, miserable alter-ego would probably still be here.

And I’m so glad she’s gone.