Lauren Dillon’s Weekly blog of her BPS Assistantship experience.
Week 1 – 15/06/2015-21/06/2015
This past week has revealed to me that firstly, in order to get participants…you must advertise advertise advertise! Secondly, recruiting for infants is far more difficult than getting undergrads, but I am optimistic that the hard work and leaflet delivery will pay off! Thirdly, while trying to create a PlayLab website, I discovered that I am not as IT competent as I thought, and this is something I will work on. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the background literature and evaluating the methodology behind the study we are hoping to improve on. I also found out this week how much time and effort goes into getting the lab set up ready for experimenting – however this was gratifying to see it start coming together.
Week 2 – 22/06/2015-28/06/2015
I have felt that the past week has been more productive. We have had some interest in the study, which is great. The word is definitely spreading which is what was hoped for. We thankfully had a logo designed for us by a good friend and it is wonderful! We have used this to advertise the study online. We are almost ready with the lab set-up, just a couple more meetings to finalise some details then we are ready for babies! I have also been working on my literature review and method section of my project. Not only is this giving me clarity with regards to the experiment, but also will certainly take a weight off my shoulders during the second semester when the 3rd year project is due for submission. I think it is really important to be able to work independently during this internship. My supervisor is always there if I need her, but I am also enjoying having the responsibility for important parts of the project.
Week 3 – 29/06/2015-05/07/2015
This week has been crazy! Just when we were concerned about our lack of participants, hoards of infants come our way. The lab needed to be sorted ASAP! We are so thankful to all the parents volunteering to participate. Organising all of the details can be a little overwhelming – we needed to make sure all of the dates of birth are taken in order to get as close to 6 months as possible; parking needed to be arranged so that the parent was not walking far with their infant – this is still… developing; participant packs were created including directions and maps to make the journey as easy as possible; Finally, scheduling the participants was a little complex, but I think finally we are on top of it! I am looking forward to filming our stimuli and starting testing this week.
Week 4 – 06/07/2017- 12/07/2014
We have finally got some participants in, and it’s been going really well! Word is definitely spreading. Working with infants is so much fun! They have so far all been very happy to participate. It is so important to make the parent comfortable, offering them a beverage and explaining clearly to them what will happen during the study. They are also really enjoying the certificates that we created – it is nice for them to have a memento. I am writing this from memory really as we have been so busy! We have also begun testing adolescents for a video gaming EEG experiment – this has also been really informative. I feel like I am gaining so much insight and experience for what working as a researcher in academia is like … and so far I love it!
Week 5 – 13/07/15-19/07/2015
We are really getting there this week! We have 7 babies booked in for the coming week and just finished with 6… I am so glad that social media is there to advertise because majority of parents at the moment are on maternity leave, and are therefore joining baby groups… this is where our participants have come from. I have tested a couple of infants alone…and usually this goes without any hiccups, but sometimes there are issues where you really want a supervisor to tell you what to do. This certainly opens my eyes to what doing a PhD would be like. I am thoroughly enjoying my internship so far and am very away of how quickly the time runs out.
Week 6 – 20/07/2015-26/07/2015
Another 6 participants booked in! I am so grateful that parents are willing to come in during this busy time in their lives. Without the participants, there is no research. Now that I have tested a variety of babies, it is clearer than ever how important it is to make the parent comfortable, and to take the time to create certificates and good information sheets. I have found that a cup of tea and a chat about the study makes them relax, which in turn is good for the study, because when mum is not happy, baby is not happy. My supervisor is about to go on vacation, and although she has prepared me with all the knowledge and information I need, I have to say I am nervous about being the sole decision maker!
Week 7 – 28/07/2015 – 4/08/2015
Oh man… I am alone! It is so important to keep on top of the diaries and calendars, because every parent makes the effort to be on time, and so I have no excuse to be late! Another thing I learned this week… what to do when you’re sick! Out of all the weeks to get a cold, it had to be the week when my supervisor was away! Thankfully they were on the other end of email, we talked about whether I should run the sessions, and that ethically I should never put a child at risk of catching an illness due to participating in research. They suggested that considering it was only a cold I should first inform the parents and see what they would like to do. I did this for two parents, informed them of my symptoms and explained that I did not want to put anybody at risk – both parents were still happy to participate, which was great. So I took my medicine and went on my way, and I am so glad I did because both sessions went seamlessly. I have also conducted two adult EEG sessions this week, which went well.
Week 8 – 05/08/2015- end
The last week… how time has flown by. At the start, we were so worried that we wouldn’t get any participants during the 8 weeks, and we are now at number 20 – half way to my goal. I am still going to continue testing whether I have an internship or not as this project is so important to me. It is such a blessing to have a project supervisor that see’s things as you do, and understands your goals and aspirations. I have no doubt in my mind that I want to continue my academic journey with her as my supervisor. I am also writing up my 3rd year report alongside testing. The method section is pretty much complete, and this will be checked over shortly. I have all of my research and notes ready to write my literature review – something that I find a challenge to say the least. I plan to sit down shortly and begin to write actual sentences… here goes!