Research Project Week 3: Creating Some Structure

Everything I got up to during the third week of my project (and some thoughts re my daily routine).

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This week my main aim was to upload 2 of my studies onto Prolific so that I'd be ready to start collecting data from participants. Both studies are investigating the effects of different types of distractor on working memory, however one intends to look at what makes something distracting, while the other is looking at whether the way we filter out distraction is the same for both auditory and visual information.

  

Other than meeting with my supervisor so we could finish off editing the spreadsheet for one of my studies together, this week had no real structure. Despite feeling motivated, the lack of routine and structure to research is something that I've found difficult to adapt to. Going into the project I had no idea what to do with each day: what hours to work, how long to work for, how much time to spend on other commitments etc. Somehow the freedom that comes with not being held accountable by anyone but yourself is something I'm continuing to find quite daunting.

  

I often felt as though I wasn’t doing the research "the right way", almost as if there was a research handbook everyone was using that I was yet to find out about. But I continue to remind myself that there is no "formula" to research, and every researcher will structure their time differently. There are certain things I've been doing to try and organise my time recently, including:

  • Setting times each day for non-research related activities (such as the gym, shopping, going out, reading etc).
  • Aiming to work anywhere between 5-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, keeping my stress levels in mind.
  • Continuing to use Trello to track my research progress, write down questions for my supervisor and make to-do lists for each day.
  • Making sure I'm getting enough sleep.

  

I've also found these weekly summaries a really nice way of keeping track of what I've done each week, and a reminder to constantly be reflecting on this experience which I am so privileged to have.

 

After tweaking some parts of the studies, such as the consent and debrief forms, this week I had the thrilling task of spending hours completing each study as participants would, in order to get an estimation of how long completion would take, so I could sort out payments (it wasn't too tedious in the end). I also continued adding to my literature review, and started preparing for my coaching session next week.

 

The studies are running smoothly now, so they have been released for data collection. I'm now waiting for data to come in, which should only take a day or so. Next week I'm hoping to really focus on data analysis, which is something I'm excited to learn a lot more about.

Mary Friend

Natural Sciences Student, University of York

3rd year Natural Sciences MSci student at University of York specialising in neuroscience. I am fascinated by the brain and the connections within it, and enjoy combining my knowledge of chemistry, biology, psychology and philosophy to generate new ideas.